May 2015

To see a video of this information, go to my YouTube Channel 

May will be a great month for the casual observer, bringing warmer nights during which to view bright Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.

PLANETS...well, the ones visible with your naked eye

Planets you can see around Sunset – Mercury (W), Venus (W), Jupiter (SW),

Planets you can see throughout the night – Jupiter (SW-->W), Saturn (SE-->SW)

Planets you can see in the Morning – Saturn (SW)

 

Mercury –It will only be visible until the 17th, and is very low on the horizon between Taurus and the Pleiades.  Mercury will decrease its height through the month and will only be visible up to about 9pm. Close to the Moon on the 19th.

VENUS Look West after sunset and it will be the first “star” you see, shining brilliantly in the evening twilight.  If you have binoculars or a telescope, you may be able to see the half-lit phase of Venus. Close to the Moon on the 21st.

Mars – Not visible all Month – is on the opposite side of the Sun. 

JUPITER – Jupiter is already up in the SW after sunset, so watch Jupiter move from the SW to the West between 1:30am in the beginning of the month and midnight at the end of the month. If you know your constellations, look to the right of Leo in Cancer.  Don’t forget the binoculars or telescope for the Galilean Moons and the cloud bands on its surface.  Close to the Moon on the night of the 23rd. 

SATURN – Saturn rises in the SE around 10pm at the beginning of this month, and rises earlier and higher as the month goes on eventually rising at sunset by month’s end. Close to the Moon on the 4th and 5th.


EVENTS...

Full Moon – 3rd (Visible all night)

4th – 5thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn – Get out after 11pm EDT and look East for an almost full Moon with Saturn 6˚ down and to the left on the 4th and 6˚ up and to the right on the 5th. By 5am, they’ll be in the Southwest      .

Last Quarter Moon – 11th (Visible from midnight into the morning) 

New Moon – 18th (darkest skies)

21stClose Encounter – Moon, Venus – Get out around sunset again and wait until you can see either the first “star” which is Venus, or the thin crescent Moon. Venus will be 7˚ up and to the right of the Moon inside Gemini.

23rdClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter – Get out after sunset and look W for a crescent Moon with Jupiter 5˚ above it.    

First Quarter Moon – 25th (Visible until midnight)

 

CONSTELLATIONS... (see sky map link at the bottom for a SkyMap for this month – or ask Mr. Webb)    Look straight up and you'll see...

After Sunset (sunset is between 8:00pm and 8:30pm)Ursa Major’s legs, Leo, Leo Minor -

Midnight – Bootes – find the Big Dipper’s handle, and starting from the inside of the handle, follow the arc that those four stars make past the last star in the handle about 30˚ or three fist-widths to the next very bright star you find which is Arcturus, the base of the constellation Boötes.  Hence astronomers use the phrase “Follow the Arc to Arcturus”

Early Morning – Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus – These are the Summer constellations, and since they are starting to rise in the morning now, that means that summer is on its way.

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

Spring constellations:  Bootes, Virgo, Leo, Corona Borealis, Hercules. 

First find the Big Dipper in the North (a North Circumpolar Asterism that never sets) and look at the handle.  Starting at the star closest to the “cup” part, follow the rest of the stars in the handle and follow the arc to Arcturus.  Arcturus is the brightest star in Bootes the Shepherd.  Some say he looks more like a kite, others say more like an ice cream cone. 

Then, following the same “arc”, speed on to Spica.  Spica is the brightest star in Virgo.  Virgo’s a dimmer constellation, so you’ll be rewarded when you find her. 

To the left of Bootes is Corona Borealis.  This is a small collection of stars that make a crown, cup, or U shape in the sky. 

To the left of Corona Borealis is the great constellation of Hercules.  Hercules is the Hero of the sky and has a central “keystone” asterism, in which lies M13, the Hercules Cluster. 

Lastly, Leo is a constellation consisting of a backward question mark (or sickle) and a right triangle to the left.  Use the two Big Dipper “cup” stars that are in the middle of the Big Dipper and follow the line they make to the bright star Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.

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

 



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