MAY, 2020 SKYNOTES

MAY STAR CHART, 2020
Please click on the Chart to enlarge.

The chart shows the whole sky, at the times given at the top left of the chart.
The edge of the chart is the HORIZON, and the ZENITH is at the centre.

This chart is for LATITUDE 54 degrees NORTH, and is produced using 'PLANETARIUM GOLD' software.

MAY 2020

 

May 2020

 

 

 

At the beginning of the month the Sun continues its journey through the constellation of Aries, until the 14th at around 00h00, when it crosses the astronomical border into Taurus. In the northern parts of the UK, twilight begins to persist all night, and there are no truly dark nights until the end of July. From now on, look out for Noctilucent Clouds, which are thought to be produced as a result of meteors passing through the upper atmosphere. These thin high clouds of ice crystals still catch the light of the sun, which even at midnight is not far below the northern horizon. Their appearance is that of silvery blue veils low in the northern sky, and may be seen an hour before and after midnight, often with interesting textures and patterns.

 

 

 

The Moon

 

 

 

The Moon is at perigee, the point of closest approach to Earth, at 03h00 on the 6th, and apogee, the furthest distance away from Earth as it can be, takes place at 08h00 on the 18th May.

 

 

 

 

 

The Full Moon of the flowering meadows (Anglo Saxon, Maed Monat) is on the 7th at 10h46, when the Moon is in the constellation of Libra, approaching Zubenelgenubi (alpha Librae). 

 

 

 

Last Quarter Moon is on the 14th at 14h03 in Capricornus.

 

 

 

New Moon is on the 22nd at 17h39, the Moon passing 3° south of the Sun in Taurus.

 

 

 

First Quarter at 03h30 on the 30th takes place in the constellation of Leo, to the east (left) of Regulus (alpha Leonis).

 

 

 

From the 23rd to the 29th, look for earthshine on the night hemisphere of the waxing crescent Moon. Look again for this phenomenon from the 15th to the 20th.

 

 

 

Planets

 

 

 

Mercury is an evening object, having passed superior conjunction on the 4th. You should be able to detect it in the NNE sky from the 12th onwards, low in the bright twilight. A good opportunity to locate the planet takes place on the evenings of the 21st and 22nd, when Mercury is within 2° of the much brighter Venus. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation east of the Sun early in June, but at the end of May it sets two hours after the Sun, and so should be readily visible using binoculars. On the evening of the 24th, the young crescent Moon is in the vicinity of the two planets, both of which lie above the Moon. All are within a radius of 5°.

 

 

 

At the beginning of May Venus sets four hours after the Sun. However, at the end of the month the planets sets with the Sun; its inferior conjunction being on the 3rd of June. Therefore during May the planet appears to be moving rapidly in towards the Sun. In binoculars it is possible to detect the crescent phase which the planet exhibits. However, your binoculars must be firmly fixed and well-focussed in order to see the tiny but brilliant crescent. As mentioned above, Venus lies near to the crescent Moon and Mercury on the 23rd.

 

 

 

Mars is a morning object increasing in magnitude from +0.4 at the beginning of the month to 0.0 at the end. The planet continues to move eastwards from Capricornus into Aquarius, crossing the boundary between the two on the 9th. During the early morning of the 15th, the Moon, just past last quarter, passes a couple of degrees south of Mars in Aqiuarius in the brightening morning twilight.

 

 

 

Jupiter rises just after 01h at the beginning of May, and before midnight at the month’s end. It may be seen low in the early morning sky on the eastern part of Sagittarius. Jupiter is the brightest object in the morning sky at this time unless the Moon is in the sky, of course. It culminates, ie crosses the south meridian, just before 04h, as the Sun is rising. The bright star-like object 5° to the left of Jupiter is Saturn; their comparative magnitudes are -2.5 (Jupiter) and +0.5 (Saturn). The waning gibbous Moon may be seen approaching Jupiter on the 12th.

 

If you look through well focussed, firmly fixed binoculars, you will see the points of light, which are Jupiter’s Galilean satellites, slowly changing their positions on a nightly basis.

 

 

 

Saturn is visible in the morning sky and lies in Capricornus near to its western boundary with Sagittarius. Together with Jupiter, both gas giants are in the same part of the sky, separated by some 4° (eight moon-widths). The northern surface of the rings continues to be well presented towards the Earth and are visible through the smallest telescope. If you wish to locate Titan, the largest of the planet’s satellites at visual magnitude +8, then look west of the planet on the 9th, 10th, 25th and 26th, when Titan’ greatest western elongation of two arc minutes occurs, and to the east of Saturn on the 4th and 5th, and again on the 20th and 21st, when the greatest elongation east of the planet takes place. During the morning of the 13th, the gibbous waning Moon lies 6° to the lower left of Saturn as they are rising at around 02h00.

 

 

 

 

 

Uranus, in western Aries, and Neptune in eastern Aquarius near the Pisces border, are not suitably placed for observation during this month when twilight shortens the nights.

 

 

 

If you look at the sky in the early morning of the 6th and the 7th from 02h, you may see an increase in the number of shooting stars visible, until morning twilight becomes too bright. Earth is crossing the path of Halley’s comet, and tiny particles, debris from this famous ‘dirty snowball’ hit the upper atmosphere as the Eta-Aquarid meteors. This meteor stream is best observed from the southern hemisphere. The radiant, from which the meteors appear to come, is such, together with the twilight at this time of the year that very few eta-Aquarids are likely to be seen at the latitude of Scarborough in the northern hemisphere.

 

 

 

Constellations visible in the south around midnight, mid-month, are as follows: Libra, Scorpius, Serpens Caput (the serpent’s head) and Corona Borealis.

 

 

All times are GMT     1° is one finger width at arm’s length.

 

All times are in UT (GMT) 

SUMMARY

The phenomena of the month : MAY, 2020

Times are given in UT for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 0" W, 54° 16' 3" N, zone 0 = UT).

Date        Hour    Description of the phenomenon

yyyy mm dd  hh:mm

2020 05 01  10:57   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

2020 05 02  04:10   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 03  18:45   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

2020 05 03  21:26   Beginning of occultation of 3-nu Vir (magn. = 4.04)

2020 05 03  22:10   End of occultation of 3-nu Vir (magn. = 4.04)

2020 05 04  21:41   SUPERIOR CONJUNCTION of Mercury with the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.1°)

2020 05 05  00:59   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 05  14:56   Meteor shower : Eta Aquarids (50 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 38.0 days)

2020 05 05  22:49   Close encounter between the Moon and Spica (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 6.0°)

2020 05 05  23:16   Comet C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS at its perihelion (dist. to the Sun = 1.615 AU; magn. = 8.2)

2020 05 06  03:03   Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 359654 km)

2020 05 07  10:45   FULL MOON

2020 05 07  21:48   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 08  05:10   Meteor shower : Eta Lyrids (3 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 11.0 days)

2020 05 08  15:11   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

2020 05 08  23:59   Close encounter between the Moon and Antares (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 5.4°)

2020 05 09  03:32   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

2020 05 10  04:00   Mercury at its perihelion (distance to the Sun = 0.30750 AU)

2020 05 10  09:14   Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini

2020 05 10  18:37   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 11  00:34   Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae

2020 05 11  22:24   Opposition of the asteroid 349 Dembowska with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 3.140 AU; magn. = 10.2)

2020 05 13  15:26   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 14  12:20   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

2020 05 14  14:03   LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON

2020 05 15  03:44   Close encounter between the Moon and Mars (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.5°)

2020 05 15  19:25   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

2020 05 16  12:15   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 18  07:45   Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 405583 km)

2020 05 19  09:04   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 19  21:07   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

2020 05 20  12:51   Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini

2020 05 22  05:53   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 22  09:42   Close encounter between Mercury and Venus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.9°)

2020 05 22  17:39   NEW MOON

2020 05 22  23:38   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

2020 05 23  04:47   Opposition of the asteroid 42 Isis with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.232 AU; magn. = 10.0)

2020 05 23  23:07   Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae

2020 05 25  02:42   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 25  05:54   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

2020 05 27  20:38   Close encounter between the Moon and M 44 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.0°)

2020 05 27  23:31   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

2020 05 30  03:30   FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON

2020 05 30  03:52   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

2020 05 30  11:59   Close encounter between Mercury and M 35 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.2°)

2020 05 30  14:41   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

2020 05 30  16:28   Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini

2020 05 30  20:20   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei) 

Calculations courtesy of: CoelixApex software.

 

 

 

LUNAR OCCULTATIONS in MAY, 2020 visible from the Scarborough (UK) area. The time given is UT