Now we’re talking, the weather is warming up nicely and hanging around outdoors for the evening is no longer the daunting (and chilly) prospect it was just a few months ago.
We admit we’ve not exactly flooded this blog with our images recently, but the impetus is there to rectify that soon so we’re busy cleaning our scopes and charging our camera batteries with an intensity rarely seen round these parts!
Joking aside while putting together the guide you see below we’ve already picked out some astronomical occurrences in May to get us back outside and observing again. We hope you can join us (metaphorically of course…) so keep watching the skies!
Sunday 4th May – The waxing crescent Moon is closely visited by gas giant Jupiter this evening. Look low down to the West around 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST)
Monday 5th May – This evening sees the peak of the annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower. Look towards the Eastern horizon from midnight onwards to catch these usually bright but fast moving meteors (with a ZHR of around 10 per hour expected as viewed from the UK)
Tuesday 6th May – Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 404,320 km (251,233 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth
Wednesday 7th May – The early morning Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase today
Saturday 10th May – Ringed planet Saturn is at Opposition in the constellation Libra this evening, so is observable for the whole night from sunset to sunrise. When at opposition, Saturn is 1,331 million kilometres (827 million miles) from the Earth!
You’ll also spot Mars very close to the Moon
Wednesday 14th May – The Full Moon in the sky today is also sometimes known as the Dragon Moon, Hare Moon or Grass Moon
Friday 16th May – Continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in May, shown below at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST). These can help you identify the spring constellations you can see in May
Sunday 18th May – The crescent Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 367,100 km (228,105 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth
Wednesday 21st May – Today our Moon is seen at Last Quarter phase
Sunday 25th May – The waxing crescent Moon appears close to planet Venus before sunrise this morning. Shown below at 03:00 UTC (04:00 BST), they make a great photo opportunity to you early risers (or dirty stop outs!)
Inner planet Mercury is also at Greatest Eastern Elongation. It will be brightest earlier in the month, but easier to spot after sunset low down to the WNW (if your horizon is flat enough) from the 15th onwards
Wednesday 28th May – The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight
Friday 30th May – Now is the time of year to start looking for noctilucent clouds, which sometimes appear low down in the northwest (after sunset) and northeast (just before sunrise)
These clouds are in the upper atmosphere and are usually too faint to see, becoming visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow
As usual, if you take any photos throughout May you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!
Planets visible this month:
Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!
To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! 🙂
Guide images created with Stellarium