Hot on the heels of an unexpected break in the weather (allowing us to see April’s partial eclipse of the Moon) we’re eager to get stuck in to another new month of astronomical events!
Now spring has finally arrived in the UK we’re hoping to be able to get some new images to show you, and if you get any snaps yourself please feel free to tweet them to us. Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to?
Thursday 2nd May – The Moon is at Last Quarter phase today
Monday 6th May – The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks early this morning (01:30 UTC/02:30 BST) with an expected ZHR of 10 meteors per hour as viewed from the UK (observers from more southern latitudes could see up to 55 per hour). Appearing to originate from the constellation Aquarius (hence the name), Aquarids are known for bright tails left by fast moving meteors
Thursday 9th – Friday 10th May – An annular solar eclipse occurs today when the Moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than that of the Sun (blocking most of its light) which causes it to look like a ring (or annulus)
This type of eclipse appears as a partial eclipse over a region thousands of kilometres wide, and will be visible from northern Australia and the southern Pacific Ocean, with the maximum of just over 6 minutes visible from the Pacific Ocean east of French Polynesia
The eclipse begins at 21:25:10 UTC
Friday 10th May – Today sees a New Moon so now is a good time for observing deep sky objects usually affected by moonlight
Saturday 11th May – Bright planets Venus and Jupiter flank the Moon just after sunset. Shown below at 19:45 UTC/ 20:45 BST, if your NW horizon is flat enough this could be a great target for some photos!
The planet Mercury is also in Superior conjunction today, so is unobservable until later in the month
Monday 13th May – The Moon is at Apogee today at a distance of 405,825 km (252,168 miles), the farthest point in its orbit from the Earth
Saturday 18th May – This morning the Moon is at First Quarter phase
Saturday 25th May – Today’s Full Moon will experience another penumbral eclipse (where it skims the edge of the Earth’s shadow), this time however it will be virtually imperceptible unlike the partial eclipse witnessed on 25th April
May’s Full Moon is also sometimes known as the Milk Moon, Dragon Moon or Hare Moon
These planets will be near neighbours from 23rd to 31st of this month, but appear closest together this evening
And today the Moon is at Perigee at a distance of 358,375 km (222,684 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth
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