May 2019

• April 10th, 2019

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         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.

May is looking to be a great month for catching up on constellations, enjoying the warm air, and checking out the Moon getting close to the planets.

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Mars (W) until 10:30pm
  • Throughout the night – None
  • Morning – Venus (E), Saturn (S), Jupiter (SW)

 

Mercury

  • Not easily visible this month.

Venus

  • Venus is getting harder and harder to see, as it gets closer to the Sun from our perspective. You’ll have to look low on the Eastern horizon about an hour before sunrise up until sunrise. It will be the only or brightest point of light in that direction.

Mars

  • Mars is already in the W around sunset and setting a little after 10:30 each night, which gives you less time, given the later and later sunset. Moves through Taurus. Dimmer, but still brighter and redder than its surroundings.

Jupiter

  • Rising between 11:30pm and 10pm, Jupiter will be very bright in the morning, off to the SSW, only about 20˚ high.

Saturn

  • Rising between 1:30am and 11:30pm, Saturn will be about 25˚ to the left of Jupiter all month, hanging out in the top left of Sagittarius.

 

EVENTS...

New Moon – 4th (darkest skies)

First Quarter Moon – 11th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 18th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 26th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

7thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars – Get out after dinner, find a very thin crescent Moon in the West, and Mars will be about 4˚ up and to the right of the Moon.

20th – 23rdClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn – Get out after midnight and into the morning on these 4 days to watch a waning gibbous Moon travel by two great gaseous planets. Look South, and on the 20th, the Moon will be about 5˚ to Jupiter’s right, with Saturn on the opposite side of Jupiter, about 20˚ away. The following morning, the Moon will have moved to the other side of Jupiter, and then on the 22nd it will be closer to Saturn than Jupiter, but still on Saturn’s right. On the last day, the 23rd, the Moon will finally be on the left of Saturn by about 5˚.

 

 

CONSTELLATIONS...

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

After Dinner, Before Bed:

Leo, Big Dipper, Bootes – Leo will be high in the South, almost straight above you. It has a backward question mark with a right triangle to the left of the question. If you look above Leo, behind you and high in the sky, you should find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.

Before Work:

Lyra, Hercules, Hercules Cluster – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Next to that is a keystone shaped constellation called Hercules. On the right side of the keystone is a small cluster of stars known at the Hercules Cluster, which is a collection of hundreds of stars on the outskirts of our galaxy. Given how high it is in the sky right now, you might catch its faint fuzziness with your naked eye, but a set of binoculars or a small telescope will really help you see it.

 


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April 2019

• April 10th, 2019

Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.

April is fairly non-eventful, except for the annual Lyrid meteor shower and some good close encounters between the Moon and Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and at least one rocket launch.

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Mars (W) until 10:30pm
  • Throughout the night – None
  • Morning –Venus (E), Saturn (S), Jupiter (SSW)

 

Mercury

  • Not easily visible this month.

Venus

  • Venus is getting harder and harder to see, as it gets closer to the Sun from our perspective. You’ll have to look low on the Eastern horizon about an hour before sunrise up until sunrise. It will be the only or brightest point of light in that direction.

Mars

  • Mars is already in the W around sunset and setting a little after 10:30 each night, which gives you less time, given the later and later sunset. Moves through Taurus. Dimmer, but still brighter and redder than its surroundings.

Jupiter

  • Rising between 1am and 11:30pm, Jupiter will be very bright in the morning, off to the SSW, only about 20˚ high.

Saturn

  • Rising between 3:30am and 1:30am, Saturn will be about 25˚ to the left of Jupiter all month, hanging out in the top left of Sagittarius.

 

EVENTS...

New Moon – 5th (darkest skies)

First Quarter Moon – 14th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 19th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 26th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

8th & 9thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars – Get out after dinner, find the crescent Moon in the West, and Mars will be about 6˚ up and to the right of the Moon on the 8th, and 9˚ down and to the right of the Moon on the 9th. Also note Taurus, Taurus’ brightest star Aldebaran, and the Pleiades hanging out in the mix there.

17th - Rocket Launch – NASA will be sending another cargo resupply to the International Space Station on an Antares rocket from Wallops Island in V

22nd LYRID METEOR SHOWER – Not the best year for not the strongest shower, at only 10-20 meteors per hour, and the Moon will be a waning gibbous (very bright), so look North in general in the morning before dawn. 

Some advice for watching:

Find a dark location and lie down in a reclining chair or something that insulates you from the ground.

Check the weather to see if the skies will be clear

Adapt your eyes to the dark by staying away from light sources or using a red light if you need to look at a star chart or not trip over something. 

If you’re feeling extra nerdy, do a scientific meteor count (S&T and IMO)

Or find out if your local astronomy club or museum is holding a viewing party.

23rd – 24thClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter – Get out after 11pm on the 23rd and into the morning on the 24th to find the Moon only 2˚ up and to the right of Jupiter.

25thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn – Get out after 2am and into the morning on the 25th to find the Moon only 3˚ to the right of Saturn. If you live in Eastern Australia, New Zealand, and western South America, you can actually witness the Moon passing in front of Saturn.

 

CONSTELLATIONS...

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

After Dinner:

Leo, Orion & his winter companions – Leo will be high in the South, almost straight above you. It has a backward question mark with a right triangle to the left of the question mark. Also, take a moment to get your last glimpse Orion, Taurus, the Pleiades, Gemini, Auriga, and Canis Major off in the West.

Before Bed:

Big Dipper, Bootes – If you look above Leo, behind you and high in the sky, you should find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.

Before Work:

Lyra, Hercules, Hercules Cluster – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Next to that is a keystone shaped constellation called Hercules. On the right side of the keystone is a small cluster of stars known at the Hercules Cluster, which is a collection of hundreds of stars on the outskirts of our galaxy. Given how high it is in the sky right now, you might catch its faint fuzziness with your naked eye, but a set of binoculars or a small telescope will really help you see it.

 

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