Astronomy Events – May 2012April 30, 2012
Despite a relatively good start to April, the proverbial showers soon set in and the second half of the month has been a washout under one rainstorm after another!
It can’t rain all the time though (can it!?), and with May now upon us there’s a whole new list of astronomical events coming up to cater for everyone!
Tuesday 1st May - Mercury rises before the Sun just after 04:00 UTC (05:00 BST) in the eastern sky
Thursday 3rd May – Venus is still visible after sunset over the west northwest horizon, and will gradually move closer to the setting Sun over the course of the month
Sunday 6th May – The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks this morning with a ZHR of around 30 per hour (see below). The radiant is in the constellation Aquarius that comes up over the eastern horizon around 01:30 UTC (02:30 BST) on 6th May, but meteors could appear anywhere across the sky
Tonight’s Full Moon is also at Perigee (356,955 km)
Monday 7th May – Saturn appears close to the blue giant Spica this evening, shown below to the south at 22:30 UTC (23:30 BST). At this time the Moon is also rising to the east close to the red giant Antares, which means “rival of Mars”
Saturday 12th May – Last Quarter Moon
Sunday 13th May – Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun, and won’t be visible all month
Thursday 17th May – The Great Globular Cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules is at its highest at 01:00 UTC (02:00 BST) this morning (see above). We’ve always wanted to image this, and having had a go at lesser cluster M37 last year (below) we’re hoping it stays crystal clear this evening!
Saturday 19th May - Moon is at Apogee (406,450 km)
Sunday 20th May – New Moon which rises and sets with the Sun, so tonight is a good time for looking at deep sky objects
Tuesday 22nd May – Venus appears just above and to the right of the waxing crescent Moon this evening, which will set about an hour and a half after the Sun
Wednesday 23rd May - This 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
Sunday 27th May – Mercury is at Superior Conjunction
Monday 28th May – First Quarter Moon
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