By Peter Forrester | May 9, 2019
Greetings, stargazers, wherever you may be! Apologies for the long delay in writing this update – I have been dealing with some personal issues which took up a great deal of my time every day, for about the last month, but that has now been resolved.
So here are your skywatching tips for this “Merry Month of May”!
Past events (included only for completeness, except for the meteor shower which is ongoing):
Thursday, May 2: Moon near Venus, morning sky at 11:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time)
Friday, May 3: Moon near Mercury, morning sky at 6:00 AM.
Saturday, May 4: New Moon at 6:46 PM.
Monday, May 6: Three events: Moon near Pleiades (open cluster) at 1:00 AM.
Also, the peak of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower occurred at 10:00 am (most visible for a 7-day period around this peak, still visible now just above the horizon before dawn). This meteor shower is formed by debris that separated from Halley’s Comet hundreds of years ago. Easier to see in the Tropics and in the Southern Hemisphere. The shower lasts until Tuesday, the 28th of May.
Third, the Moon was near the bright star Aldebaran at 6 PM.
Tuesday, May 7: The Moon was near Mars at 9:00 PM.
Thursday, May 9: The Moon will be near the bright star Pollux (one of the bright ones in Gemini) at 11:00 PM.
Saturday, May 11: First Quarter Moon at 9:12 PM.
Monday, May 13: Moon will be at perigee (closest to Earth in the current orbital period) at 5:54 PM.
Saturday, May 18: Full Moon at 5:10 PM.
Tuesday, May 21: Mercury will be at superior conjunction (meaning it is directly behind the Sun) with the Sun at 9:00 AM. After this it will pass into the evening sky.
Wednesday, May 22: Moon will be near Saturn at 4:00 PM. People in South Africa will be able to see an “occultation”, meaning that Saturn will be behind the Moon.
Sunday, May 26: Moon at apogee (furthest from the Earth) at 9:00 AM. Also, Last Quarter Moon at 12:33 PM.
Tuesday, May 28: Ceres will be at opposition at 6:00 PM. This means that it is in a straight line with the Earth and Sun, with the Earth in the middle. This is when it is brightest, but at apparent magnitude of 6.7, it is still too dim to see with the naked eye unless you have extremely dark skies.
Ceres is the largest object in the Main Asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the only “dwarf planet” there. It was the first asteroid to be discovered, way back in 1801. The NASA spacecraft Dawn orbited Ceres from 2015 to 2018, see the reference below for more information on this fascinating space body.
For more skywatching events (including some in the free download PDF that involve the Moon being near various objects which I omitted), or to see the events in Universal Time or ones that are not visible from my location in Milton, New Hampshire, see http://Skymaps.com/skycalendar/.
Previous in series: Skies Over Milton, April Edition
Thalassoudis, Kym. (2000-19). Skymaps. Retrieved May 9, 2019 from skymaps.com.
Wikipedia. (2019, May 8). Ceres (dwarf planet). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceres_(dwarf_planet).
Wikipedia. (2019, April 20). Conjunction (astronomy)#Superior and inferior. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjunction_(astronomy)#Superior_and_inferior
Wikipedia. (2019, May 4). Eta Aquariids. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eta_Aquariids.
Wikipedia. (2019, May 8). Opposition (astronomy). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_(astronomy).