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Home / Explore / Astronomy Info & Events: May

Astronomy Info & Events: May

May 2022 Astronomical Highlights

The Visible Planets

Mercury is visible low above the west-northwest horizon just after sunset at the start of the month but by May 10 disappears into the glare of the setting Sun. On May 1 and 2, look for Mercury just to the left of the Pleiades, star cluster (M45), in the constellation of Taurus, the bull. Binoculars will be useful to view them together. After sunset on May 1, look for the waxing crescent Moon just below Mercury and on the evening of May 2 look for Mercury just to the right of the waxing crescent Moon. Mercury will be at inferior conjunction (in between the Earth and the Sun) on May 21.

Venus is the brightest object seen very low above the eastern horizon before sunrise. Look for the fainter planet Jupiter just above Venus before sunrise on May 1. The slim waning crescent Moon can be seen near Venus during the predawn hours on May 26 and 27.

Mars is seen rising along the east-southeastern horizon around 4:30 a.m. local time at the start of month and along the eastern horizon by 3:30 a.m. local time by the end of the month. Mars starts the month in the zodiac constellation of Aquarius, the water bearer, but on May 19 it moves into the adjacent zodiac constellation of Pisces, the fish, to join the planet Jupiter in that constellation. Before sunrise on May 24, look for Mars above the waning crescent Moon. On May 29, Mars and Jupiter will be a mere 0.5 degrees apart. Over the next few months, watch how Mars brightens steadily for its December opposition.

Jupiter rises above the eastern horizon before sunrise this month. It is seen just above and very near the brighter planet Venus before sunrise on May 1. After May 1, Jupiter continues to rise higher into the predawn sky becoming easier to see, while it leaves Venus lingering behind low above the east-northeast horizon. Jupiter is found in the zodiac constellation of Pisces, the fish, all month long. On May 24 and 25 look for the waning crescent Moon below Jupiter and the other planet Mars. On May 29 look for a close conjunction of Jupiter and Mars in the predawn sky.

Saturn rises along the southeastern horizon at around 4:00 am local time at the start of the month and then by about 2:00 a.m. at the end of the month. It can be found among the stars of the constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat, near the star Deneb Algiedi that marks the tail of the sea goat. By sunrise, Saturn can be seen about 15 degrees above the southeastern horizon. The Last Quarter Moon can be seen below Saturn before sunrise on May 22.

Moon Phases

May 8 First Quarter Moon

May 15 Full Moon (Flower Moon or the Frog Croaking Moon) Total Lunar Eclipse!

May 22 Last Quarter Moon

May 30 New Moon

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 ? Earliest launch of the Artemis 1 test flight to the Moon and back (unmanned).

May ? James Webb Space Telescope to being scientific study.

May 1 – 8 Comet C/2021 O3 (PanSTARRS) may be visible low in the northwestern sky after sunset. Look for it near the planet Mercury and the Pleiades on May 1.

May 2 Islamic holy month of Ramadan ends tonight!

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

May 6 Eta Aquarid meteors peak in the early morning hours.

Zenith hourly rate of approximately 50 meteors/hour.

May 7 International Astronomy Day (Spring)

May 8 Mother’s Day

Comet C/2021 O3 (PanSTARRS) closest to Earth (82 million km)

May 9 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Edmonton Centre meeting

7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Zoom virtual meeting

Free to attend.

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

May 15 Total Lunar Eclipse

Penumbral eclipse begins 7:31 p.m. MDT (not visible, Moon below horizon)

Partial eclipse begins 8:27 p.m. MDT (not visible, Moon below horizon

Moon rises from Edmonton 9:22 p.m. MDT

Total lunar eclipse begins 9:28 p.m. MDT

Mid-eclipse 10:11 p.m. MDT

Total lunar eclipse ends 10:54 p.m. MDT

Partial umbral eclipse ends 11:55 p.m. MDT

Penumbral eclipse ends 12:51 a.m. MDT (May 16)

From the Edmonton area, a clear unobstructed view to the southeastern horizon will be needed to get the best views. The partial lunar eclipse phase will already be in progress when the Moon rises at 9:22 pm. All times in red noted above indicate the events visible from Edmonton.

Telescopes will be set up by the TELUS World of Science – Edmonton for free public viewing of the event starting at 9:30 p.m. Please note, the Moon may not be visible due to trees and line of sight until 10:00 p.m. from Coronation Park.

Photo of Total Lunar Eclipse by Frank Florian

May 21 Mercury at inferior conjunction

May 23 Victoria Day

May 29 Jupiter and Mars 0.5 degrees apart (conjunction) in the predawn eastern sky.

Arthur Eddington tested Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity at a solar eclipse 103 years ago today.