Astronomy Info & Events - May

Moon Phases

May 7: Last Quarter Moon

May 15: New Moon

May 21: First Quarter Moon

MAy 29: Full Moon (the Flower Moon)

Special Events

International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes

ISS passes are visible for all of May. Early in the month the passes all occur during the predawn hours but by the end of the month those passes move into the late evening hours.  Check out the website http://www.heavens-above.com or by using satellite tracking smart phone apps like Sputnik to find out the exact times when the ISS will be visible from your location.  The ISS will be seen as a bright moving point of light, moving in an arc from the west to the east during its visible passes.

May 5: Eta Aquariid meteor shower peaks and International Space Day. Insight Mars Lander launches. Nice line up of Mars, the waning gibbous Moon and Saturn (pre-dawn SE sky)

May 8: Jupiter at opposition and 37 light minutes from Earth.

May 14: Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Edmonton Centre) meeting Times:  7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. in the IMAX Theatre at TELUS World of Science. Free for anyone to attend.  See http://www.edmontonrasc.com for more details.

May 21: Waxing crescent Moon near Regulus (evening sky).

Visible Planets

Mercury is not visible this month from our latitude as it rises just before the Sun does.

Venus shines brilliantly low in the west-northwest sky at sunset.  The slim waxing crescent Moon will appear below Venus on the evening of May 16 and to its east on May 17.

Mars rises in the southeast around 2:00 a.m. local time.  It is seen traversing the stars of the constellation Sagittarius, the archer, from May 1 to May 14, and then moves into the constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat, from May 15 onwards.  Watch Mars grow brighter through the month as the distance between it and the Earth diminishes, leading up to the Mars opposition on July 26.  The waning gibbous Moon will appear above Mars on May 5 and 6.

Jupiter is located in the constellation of Libra, the scales, and can be seen rising in the east-southeast direction around sunset. Jupiter continues to move westward through the night as the Earth rotates and then is found low in the southwest sky by sunrise.  Jupiter reaches opposition on May 8 and will be well placed for telescopic observing through the month, being highest in the sky around local midnight time.  On the evenings/mornings of May 26 and 27 the waxing gibbous Moon can be seen above and near Jupiter.

Saturn rises late in the evening, around 1:00 a.m. local time, in the southeastern sky.  Saturn is located in the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, and will be seen low in the southern sky by sunrise.  On May 4 and 5, the waning gibbous Moon can be seen near Saturn.