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The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.
The Full Moon for May
The Full Flower Moon – May In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.
On May 10, a thin crescent Moon lies about 2° (4 Moon-widths) to the lower left of Venus. On the 12th, the waxing crescent Moon lies about 5.5° to the left of Jupiter. On the 23rd, the nearly full Moon passes about 5° below Saturn.
The Planets Visibility for May
Low in WNW evening sky late May.
Mercury beginning of May is in the morning sky and is to close to Sun to be observed until the end of May when it becomes visible in the western evening sky right after sunset. Mercury on the 31st of May sets at 10:22 pm. at magnitude -0.3 in the constellation Gemini.
Evening sky NNW
Venus is is beginning to emerge from the Suns glare in early May in the west-northwest right after sunset. By midmonth Venus sets at 9:18 pm and by the end of May sets at 9:51 pm. Venus is located midmonth in the constellation Taurus the Bull. The planet continues to climb higher in the western sky away from the Sun in coming months.
Lost in Sun's Glare.
Mars becomes visible in the morning sky this summer
To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.
Visible after sunset in W sky
Jupiter at midmonth is at -2.0 magnitude and a diameter of 33.0" located in the constellation Taurus the Bull. Jupiter sets in the western sky at 10:58 p.m. beginning of May, midmonth at 10:17 p.m. and end of month at 9:30 p.m. Jupiter will be lost in the Suns glare early June.
Evening SE to W sky. Visible most of the night till 5 a.m.
Saturn is at 0.2 magnitude and a diameter of 19.0" located on the border of the constellation Libra and Virgo beginning of May. Saturn is visible in the south-eastern sky after sunset. The tilt angle of Saturn's rings for May are tilted at 17.7 degrees midmonth. Saturn sets midmonth at 5:20 a.m. A small telescope will reveal the famous rings of the planet.
Lost in Sun's Glare until midmonth and later
Uranus midmonth is at 5.9 magnitude, diameter of 00°00'03" located low on the eastern horizon just before dawn in the constellation Pisces. Very difficult to find until end of month when the planet has increased distance from the dawn sky.
See finder charts: Sky & Telescope
Low in SE before dawn
Neptune is at 7.9 magnitude, diameter of 00°00'02" in the constellation Aquarius visible before sunrise.
See finder charts: Sky & Telescope
Bright Minor Planets
May 1st Asteroid 4 Vesta is 00°27'53" degrees above M-35 at 8.4 magnitude and the asteroid 1 Ceres is 08°23'09"degrees above M-35 at 8.8 magnitude at midmonth.
Pluto at magnitude +14.1, amid the stars of the Milky Way of the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is 03°52'00" left of M-25.
Comets brighter than 9th magnitude based on current estimates for northern hemisphere observers
C/2011 L4 ( PanSTARRS )
Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) is still visible through a small telescope at estimated 7.1 magnitude. This comet is fading slowly. It is visible all night as it is a circumpolar object for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. On May 13, it passes less than half a degree from 3rd-magnitude Gamma Cephei. It will spend most of the month in Cepheus, but will pass into Draco on the 26th. On May 27th the comet will be 5 degrees left of Polaris the pole star.
C/2012 F6 (Lemmon)
Comet Lemmon is visible in the morning sky before sunrise at 6.4 magnitude located in the constellation Pisces and near the border of Pegasus. On the 24th of May the comet will be just below the 2.0 magnitude star Alpheratz, the north- east star of the Great Square of the mythic winged horse, Pegasus (which is at the head of Andromeda).
C/2012 S1 ( ISON ) Visible late summer
C/2012 S1 ( ISON ) is due early November for 2013. It may become quite impressive starting in the early fall as it draws close to the Sun and swings very close to the Sun November 28th. A long tail may be seen above the early pre dawn November morning sky and then as the days progress the comet reappears after it's swing around the sun and becomes visible in the evening sky after sunset in mid December. It is currently 15.2 magnitude in the constellation Gemini out now at a distance within the orbit of Jupiter and falling towards the Sun. It can be photographed with CCD cameras but not seen with average telescope. It is expected to brighten and become visible to naked eye around first week of November, but this is only an estimate as comets are unpredictable.
On Nov. 28, 2013, comet ISON will fly through the sun's outer atmosphere only 1.2 million km from the stellar surface below. If the comet survives the encounter, it could emerge glowing as brightly as the Moon, visible near the sun in the blue daylight sky. The comet's dusty tail stretching into the night might create a worldwide sensation.
For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.
The Eta Aquarid meteors peak on the night of May 5/6. The Moon will not interfere. Expect up to 20 meteors per hour as seen from a dark-sky location. See: Meteors Online
Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.
Also see: Spaceflight NASA
Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.
If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND
See explanation of solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials
Solar Wind Dials