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Home / Explore / Astronomy Info & Events: May

Astronomy Info & Events: May

The Visible Planets

Mercury is visible low in the northwestern sky just after sunset for most of the month and traverses the background stars of Taurus, the bull. By the end of the month however, Mercury dips lower toward the setting Sun and becomes difficult to view. After sunset on May 13, look for the waxing crescent Moon near Mercury. On the evening of May 28 look for Mercury near the much brighter planet Venus.

Venus slowly emerges out of the glare of the setting Sun in the first week of May, appearing as a bright point of light low in the northwestern sky after sunset. Look for Venus near the very young waxing crescent Moon after sunset on May 12. On May 28 Venus and Mercury will be found very near one another.

Mars is slowly fading in brightness and is found in the northwestern sky after sunset amongst the stars of Gemini, the twins. It will set along the northwestern horizon a little over two hours after sunset. On May 15 look for Mars near the waxing crescent Moon making for a very close conjunction between these two worlds.

Jupiter is the brilliant object located in the constellation of Aquarius, the water bearer, where it remains for the rest of the year. It rises in the southeast before 4:00 am early in the month but by the end of month it is seen rising just after 2:00 a.m. local time. On May 4 Jupiter will be seen just above the waning crescent Moon and just to the west of the fainter planet Saturn making a nice triangle of celestial objects in the southeastern sky before sunrise.

Saturn rises along the southeastern horizon at around 3:30 am local time at the start of the month and then about 1:30 a.m. by the end of the month. It can be found among the stars of the constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat. The Last Quarter Moon can be seen below Saturn before sunrise on May 3, with the brighter planet Jupiter just to the north.

Moon Phases

May 3 Last Quarter Moon

May 11 New Moon

May 19 First Quarter Moon

May 26 Full Moon (Flower Moon or the Frog Croaking Moon) Total Lunar Eclipse!

Special Events

International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes

Look for passes of the ISS all month long before sunrise at the start of the month and then late in the evening starting around the middle of the month. The ISS always moves in the starry sky from west to east. Exact times of these passages for your location can be found by visiting the website http://www.heavens-above.com or by using satellite tracking smart phone apps like Sputnik.

May 4 Star Wars day!! May the Fourth be with you.

May 5 Eta Aquarid meteors peak in the early morning hours.

Zenith hourly rate of approximately 50 meteors/hour.

May 9 Mother’s Day

May 10 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Edmonton Centre meeting

7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Zoom virtual meeting due to COVID-19

Free to attend.

See http://www.edmontonrasc.com for more details.

May 12 Islamic holy month of Ramadan ends tonight!

May 12 The waxing crescent Moon will be near Venus in the northwestern sky at sunset.

May 13 The waxing crescent Moon will be near the planet Mercury low in the northwestern sky at sunset.

May 15 International Astronomy Day

May 16 Mercury at its greatest eastern elongation of 22 degrees from the Sun. Best date to see Mercury from the northern hemisphere, and hence from Edmonton’s latitude, this year!

May 19 Victoria Day

May 26:

Penumbral eclipse begins 2:47 a.m. MDT

Partial eclipse begins 3:44 a.m. MDT

Total lunar eclipse begins 5:11 a.m. MDT

Total lunar eclipse ends 5:25 a.m. MDT

Moon sets from Edmonton 5:26 a.m. MDT

Partial umbral eclipse ends 6:52 a.m. MDT

Penumbral eclipse ends 7:49 a.m. MDT

From the Edmonton area, a clear unobstructed view to the southwestern horizon will be needed to view the total lunar eclipse phase, as the Moon sets at 5:26 a.m. MDT. During the brief period of the total lunar eclipse the Sun will have already risen in the northeastern sky at 5:17 a.m. MDT making the sky quite bright.

This is the largest perigee Moon (Super Moon) this year! It will be 357,069 km away from the Earth during the total lunar eclipse phase.

May 29 Arthur Eddington tested Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity at a solar eclipse 102 years ago today.

May 28 Mercury near the brighter planet Venus in our northwestern sky after sunset. Very close conjunction.

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