SkyEye

May 2018

Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.

The Calendar

Date Body Event
1
2
3
4 Moon, Saturn 1.7° apart
5
6 Earth η Aquariid meteor shower
Moon apogee
7 Moon descending node
8 Moon last quarter
9 Jupiter opposition
10
11
12
13
14
15 Moon new
16 Moon occultation of Aldebaran: visible from parts of northern Russia, and northwestern and northcentral Canada.
17 Moon perigee
18
19
20 Moon 1.4° south of the open star cluster M44 (known as Praesepe or the Beehive Cluster)
Moon ascending node
21
22 Moon first quarter
23
24
25
26
27
28
29 Moon full
30
31

The Solar System

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.

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Sun AriesTaurus

Mercury PiscesAriesTaurus

Mercury is visible in the east before sunrise but disappears from view by the end of the month. Southern hemisphere observers get much the best views early in May.

Venus TaurusGemini

The evening star is high above the western horizon at sunset for northern hemisphere observers and rising higher throughout the month.

Earth and Moon

The waning gibbous Moon hampers observations of the η Aquariid meteor shower on 6 May. Although the series of lunar occultations of Regulus has finished, the Moon is still gliding in front of Aldebaran. This first-magnitude star is eclipsed by the Moon on 16 May.

Mars SagittariusCapricornus

The southern hemisphere is the place to be to observe Mars in the early morning hours.

Jupiter Libra

Jupiter is at opposition on 9 May and shines its brightest at magnitude -2.5. Rather low in the horizon for temperate northern latitudes, this gas giant is high in the sky for observers farther south. It is visible all night.

Saturn Sagittarius

Now rising before midnight, the ringed planet is becoming more convenient to observe during the evening but is still primarily a morning sky object. It can be found 1.7° south of the waning gibbous Moon on the fourth day of the month.

Uranus Aries

This faint ice giant may still be too close to the Sun to be seen in the morning sky this month.

Neptune Aquarius

A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system. Neptune rises in the early morning hours and is best seen from the southern hemisphere.

The Celestial Sphere

Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky. The International Astronomical Union recognises 88 different constellations. The brightest stars as seen from the Earth are easy to spot but do you know their proper names? With a set of binoculars you can look for fainter objects such as nebulae and galaxies and star clusters or some of the closest stars to the Sun.

Descriptions of the sky for observers in both the northern and southern hemispheres are available for the following times this month. Subtract one hour from your local time if summer (daylight savings) time is in effect.

Local Time Mid-month Northern Hemisphere Equator Southern Hemisphere
1730 hours (1830 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
1930 hours (2030 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
2130 hours (2230 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
2330 hours (0030 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0130 hours (0230 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0330 hours (0430 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0530 hours (0630 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S