Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sky Watch

The Sky at a Glance - May 2-9

Saturday, May 2

  • The Moon shines about 3° below Regulus during evening for North America, as shown at right.
  • A small telescope will nearly always show Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Tonight and tomorrow Titan is four ring-lengths to Saturn's west. A guide to identifying other Saturnian satellites visible in amateur scopes is in the May Sky & Telescope, page 47.
  • Venus in the morning sky is at its greatest illuminated extent: its sunlit area appears largest as seen in a telescope (that is, it covers the most square arcseconds). This is very close to when Venus is at its greatest brilliancy.

    Sunday, May 3

  • This evening the Moon shines below Saturn, as shown at right. Although they look close together, Saturn is currently 3,500 times farther away. And Regulus is 560,000 times farther than Saturn!

    Monday, May 4

  • Irene and Flora, two springtime asteroids, are a little past opposition this week. At 9th and 10th magnitude they await your telescope, and your chart-using skills, as they drift only about 4° apart between the legs of Virgo. See the article and the 10th-magnitude chart in the May Sky & Telescope, page 46.

    Venus is only about 5° from faint Mars low in the eastern dawn. (The visibility of Mars in bright twilight is exaggerated here.)
    Tuesday, May 5
  • The Eta Aquarid meteor shower should be at its peak before the first light of dawn Wednesday morning, though the shower runs for a few days before and after too. This is often the best annual meteor shower for the Southern Hemisphere. Few of its meteors, however, are visible from mid-northern latitudes. On Wednesday morning, far-southerners get about an hour's window of darkness after moonset and before dawn's first light.

    Wednesday, May 6

  • Look to the Moon's upper left this evening for Spica, in Virgo. Farther right of the Moon is the constellation Corvus. Way, way off to the Moon's upper left is brighter Arcturus.

    Thursday, May 7

  • Sometime around 10:00 p.m. daylight saving time, bright Vega in the northeast and bright Capella in the northwest will be at exactly the same height. The moment when this balance occurs depends on your location in your time zone, especially how far east or west you are. How accurately can you time this event at your site?

    Friday, May 8

  • Full Moon tonight (exact at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning Eastern Daylight Time).

    Saturday, May 9

  • By 11 p.m. the Moon is well up in the southeast. Look to its lower left, by a bit less than a fist-width at arm's length, for the reddish summer star Antares on the rise. Scattered nearby are fainter stars of Scorpius.

    Information taken from


    goodnewscowboy said...

    Nice post! Very eclectic series of blog posts you've made. You've interested me enough to get your feed delivered to my RSS reader. Thanks!

    C. said...

    Cool pictures!

    Anonymous said...

    Yikes! I was up at 5am this morning, and I think I saw Mars and Venus. That was sooo cool to know what to look for!