Hello once again fellow astrophiles! Well, May is here, and if you like blood, flowers and possible explosions in the sky, then this is going to be a dandy of a month for you. It all starts with a few nights of earthshine and culminates with the gods of war and thunder battling it out in the predawn sky.
It all starts with a few nights of earthshine and culminates with the gods of war and thunder battling it out in the predawn sky.
The best nights to look for it will probably be May 3rd and 4th. To see it, look to the southwestern sky just after sunset.
Last month I talked about earthshine, the phenomenon whereby the dark portion of a crescent moon is lit in a ghostly fashion by light bouncing off the Earth and onto the moon. Well, this phenomenon can be seen this month as well, and at a far more convenient time for most people – in the early evening instead of before dawn. The best nights to look for it will probably be May 3rd and 4th. To see it, look to the southwestern sky just after sunset.
The explosions in the sky I was referring to come in the form of the anxiously awaited Eta Aquarids meteor shower, which is caused by Earth crashing into debris left in the wake of Halley’s Comet. The best shooting star I’ve ever seen was part of the Eta Aquarids. It was intensely bright and exploded in a nice little green cloud at the end. Although the shower is active from April 19 to May 28, it will peak on the night of May 5-6 at 4:00 am, producing (hopefully) about 30 shooting stars per hour. All signs point to an excellent showing this year, so get out there and see it! You’ll have to be up bright and early though, as the spectacle won’t commence until the early morning hours (mainly after 3 am).
On May 16 we get an awesome night of blood and flowers when the full Flower Moon creeps into the shadow of the earth…
On May 16 we get an awesome night of blood and flowers when the full Flower Moon creeps into the shadow of the earth and goes full Blood Moon in a spectacular total lunar eclipse! This is definitely one of those times when you want to dust off the old binoculars and head outside. There you can stand and stare agape as the soft and romantic silvery disk of the Moon slowly transforms into a ruddy red disk of the devil! Well, okay, so that devil bit is a little over the top, but a guy’s allowed to get excited isn’t he? The Moon will begin to dim in the Lewisburg area at just after 9:30 pm, but the actual eclipse won’t begin until 10:28 pm, while totality itself lasts from 11:30 pm to 12:54 am. If you miss this eclipse, you’ll get another chance to see one later this year, in the early morning hours of November 8.
Last but not least, Venus and Luna have a delightful dalliance at dawn on the morning of May 27, while in the sky nearby, Jupiter and Mars, gods of thunder and war, come together for a fight in the firmament. Is this a macho, masculine machination intended to lure the lovely ladies? I’d like to think so.
Well folks, that about wraps it up for this month. Until next time, remember – always keep an Eye on the Sky!