Saturday, May 7, 2011

Events for the Week 5/6 to 5/14

The night sky is filled with wonders...imagine that you too can be part of this beautiful masterpiece! Your daily viewing information for this week:

Events for May 7 (Saturday)

Our moon will visit some stars tonight: it's position is currently in Gemini (below Castor and Pollux). Procyon will be at the moon's left, and Capella will be at it's right. Menkalinen is at the moon's upper-left. Total, these five stars (including Castor and Pollux) create an arch over the moon, Sky and Telescope remarks "This is an archetypal springtime scene, repeated every April and May when the Moon is a waxing crescent." Such a beautiful way to welcome spring. If you wish to view Saturn, Titan (its largest moon) will be in good viewing conditions tonight. It's about four ring-lengths to Saturn's west tonight, and a compact telescope will try to show its atmosphere for you: beautiful burnt orange. [Below is a picture of Castor and Pollux with the moon on the eight; the positions won't change much]

Events for May 8 (Sunday)

Again, the beautiful arc of stars is visible tonight; the moon will be bigger! Another interesting thing to note, a 9th-magnitude asteroid called 10 Hygiea, which is currently near opposition, will pass through southern Libra this month. 10 Hygiea is actually the fourth-largest asteroid [detected] and  it appears quite dim because its surface is totally black.

Events for May 9

The Big Dipper will be at its brightest tonight, and will be positioned very high in the northeast, perfect for Northern Hemisphere viewers. As well, you can use the big dipper to help 'star-hop' to Canes Venatici as the picture below shows us. 

Events for May 10

Tonight the moon will be at first-quarter, exactly at 4:33 p.m. EDT. Regulus and the Sickle of Leo will pass gracefully under this moon, making at great constellation night. The moon will appear to be half full and its edge will be flat. [You can see this picture under the hyperlink of 'D moon'] Why? Astronomers may call this a 'D moon' (as you will see in a minute) and this is what Earth-Sky says: 
" is the sunrise line on the moon. In the lit portion it is daytime, and on the other side of the line, it is night. In reality, it is not correct to refer to the “dark side of the moon” as any permanent place, because with a constantly moving terminator, any location on the moon is in the dark half of the time, and in the daylight half of the time."
As well, before the sun rises tomorrow (Wednesday morning), Jupiter and Mercury are just ½° above and 1½° below brighter Venus. This is also when the two brightest planets (Jupiter and Venus) will appear closest together. 

Events for May 11

Leo passes above the moon tonight. It is still 'flat' but gradually getting larger... If you keep track of events that occur in the future, August 23 may be a great date to keep in mind. "On this date, Regulus rises with the sun, shines with the sun at midday, and sets with the sun." (Earth-Sky)

 Events for May 12

Arcturus, Vega, and Capella all dance high in the sky tonight. They are actually the three brightest spring stars. Arcturus lies now high in the southeast while Vega sits lower in the northeast. Capella rests in the northwest; each star around zero magnitude (Mag 0). Although Arcturus lies low, Vega and Capella "are at exactly the same height" around 10 p.m. DT tonight, depending on where you live. These stars won't be in the exact positions they are tonight, tomorrow. Stars move (remember), and some, very fast! 

Would you like to also view (with our three stars!) the legendary green flash? Wait, what's that? Come and find out: maybe you too can view it!

Events for May 13 & 14

The picture explains all for these two days: [Moon & Saturn on 13th, Moon & Spica on the 14th; click on it to make it larger]

What will happen May 15 and beyond? Here is an early shot: 

four planets at dawn May 2011

Planet Positions for the Week of May 7 - May 14

Mercury- at horizon at dawn
Venus- at horizon at dawn; quickly sinking away into the horizon
Mars- at horizon at dawn
Jupiter- at horizon at dawn; quickly rising! 
Saturn- magnitude 0.6 in Virgo; best planet in telescope view
Uranus- magnitude 5.9 in western Pisces, still in the glow of the Sun at dawn
Neptune- magnitude 7.9 in Aquarius, southeast before the Sun rises

Solar System Calendar (Times in UT)

07 May 2011 19:02:53 Max. Western Elongation of Mercury, 26.6°
08 May 2011 05:35:58 Mercury apparently closest to Venus, 1° 26'
09 May 2011 15:44:14 Conjunction of Mercury and Venus, 1° 27'
10 May 2011 20:32:54 First Quarter
10 May 2011 22:46:28 Conjunction of Mercury and Jupiter in Right Ascension, 2° 12'
11 May 2011 09:14:50 Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in Right Ascension, 36.7'
11 May 2011 13:55:26 Min. North Latitude of Mercury, -3.1°
11 May 2011 14:42:06 Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, 34.1'
11 May 2011 14:48:09 Venus apparently closest to Jupiter, 34.1'
11 May 2011 19:56:52 Conjunction of Mercury and Jupiter, 2° 3'
11 May 2011 20:09:45 Mercury apparently closest to Jupiter, 2° 3'
13 May 2011 05:50:15 Min. North Latitude of the Moon, -5.2°
14 May 2011 10:26:45 Conjunction of Saturn with the Moon, 7.6°
14 May 2011 22:12:40 Max. South Latitude of Pluto, 4.5°

Have a great viewing this week!

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