Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.
|Wednesday||3||First Quarter Moon|
|Thursday||4||Moon occults the first magnitude star Regulus: visible from Australia, New Zealand beginning around 09:15 UT.|
|Saturday||6||The waxing gibbous Moon should not unduly hamper observations of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower. Best observed from equatorial and southern regions, the predicted peak of this shower is around 02:00 UT.|
|Friday||12||Moon at apogee|
|Wednesday||17||Mercury at greatest elongation west|
|Friday||19||Last Quarter Moon|
|Saturday||20||Moon occults Neptune: visible from the south Atlantic beginning around 05:30 UT.|
|Friday||26||Moon at perigee less than six hours after new phase: expect unusually extreme tides.|
|Wednesday||31||Moon occults the first magnitude star Regulus: visible from central and southern Africa (except southern tip), Madagascar beginning around 15:30 UT.|
The word planet is derived from the Greek word for 'wanderer'. Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies, including comets, are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.
The closest planet to the Sun is particularly well-placed for observing in the morning sky from the southern hemisphere. It reaches greatest elongation west on 17 May.
The morning star climbs high above the eastern horizon for southern hemisphere observers and becomes easier to see for those in the north as well.
Mars is setting ever earlier as it heads towards solar conjunction this summer. Compare its colour to that of the bright star Aldebaran when the red planet passes close by on 7 May.
Since it doesn't set until after midnight, the largest of the planets is easy to observe during the evening hours.
Now rising well before midnight, the ringed planet is more convenient to observe during the evening.
This faint ice giant may still be too close to the Sun to be seen in the morning sky this month.
A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system. Neptune rises in the early morning hours and is occulted by the Moon on 20 May.