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May 2014 Celestial Calendar

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#1 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky


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Posted 30 April 2014 - 09:50 PM

May Celestial Calendar by Dave Mitsky

All times, unless otherwise noted, are UT (subtract four hours and, when appropriate, one calendar day for EDT)

5/1 May Day or Beltane, a cross-quarter day; the Moon is 2 degrees north of the first-magnitude star Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) at 16:00
5/2 Mercury is at perihelion today
5/4 Jupiter is 5 degrees north of the Moon at 14:00
5/6 The peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower (20 per hour for northern observers) occurs at 7:00; the Moon is at apogee, subtending 29' from a distance of 404,318 kilometers (231,232 miles), at 10:24; the Lunar X (also known as the Werner or Purbach Cross), an X-shaped illumination effect involving various rims and ridges between the craters La Caille, Blanchinus, and Purbach, is predicted to begin at 19:50
5/7 First Quarter Moon occurs at 3:15
5/10 Saturn (magnitude 0.0, apparent size 18.7'') is at opposition at 18:00
5/11 Mars is 3 degrees north of the Moon at 14:00
5/12 The Moon is 1.7 degrees north of the first-magnitude star Spica (Alpha Virginis) at 13:00
5/13 Mercury is at its greatest heliocentric latitude north today; a double Galilean satellite shadow transit begins at 9:24; Mercury is 8 degrees north of the first-magnitude star Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) at 16:00
5/14 Saturn is 0.6 degree north of the Moon, with an occultation occurring in Victoria Land (Antarctica), New Zealand, and southern Australia, at 16:00; Full Moon, known as the Milk or Planting Moon, occurs at 19:16
5/15 Venus is 1.3 degrees south of Uranus at 13:00; asteroid 9 Metis (magnitude 9.6) is at opposition at 14:00
5/16 Venus is at aphelion today
5/17 A double Galilean satellite shadow transit begins at 21:22
5/18 The Moon is at perigee, subtending 33' from a distance of 367,102 kilometers (228,107 miles), at 11:57
5/20 A double Galilean satellite shadow transit begins at 11:59
5/21 Mars is stationary at 9:00; Last Quarter Moon occurs at 12:59
5/22 Neptune is 5 degrees south of the Moon at 4:00; the Curtiss Cross, an X-shaped illumination effect located between the craters Parry and Gambart, is predicted to begin at 21:57
5/24 A possible new meteor shower associated with Comet 209P/LINEAR peaks at 7:00; Uranus is 1.9 degrees south of the Moon at 20:00
5/25 Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation (23 degrees) at 7:00; Venus is 2 degrees south of the Moon at 16:00
5/27 A double Galilean satellite shadow transit begins at 14:34
5/28 New Moon (lunation 1131) occurs at 18:40
5/31 Mercury is 6 degrees north of the Moon at 16:00; asteroid 15 Eunomia (magnitude 9.5) is at opposition at 18:00

Nicolas Lacaille (1713-1762) and Joseph Lockyer (1836-1920) were born this month.

Nereid, Neptune’s third-largest satellite, was discovered on May 1, 1949 by Gerard Kuiper.

The May 6th peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower occurs after the waxing crescent Moon sets and is not compromised by moonlight. Southern hemisphere observers are favored and may see as many as 55 meteors per hour. Eta Aquarid meteors are debris from the famous periodic comet 1P/Halley. A new meteor shower linked to Comet 209P/LINEAR with a radiant between Ursa Major and Camelopardalis and a peak rate of 100 or more meteors per hour may take place on the morning of May 24th. For additional information, see the article on pages 30 to 35 of the May issue of Sky & Telescope.

Information on Iridium flares and passes of the ISS, the Tiangong-1, the USAF’s X-37B, the HST, and other satellites can be found at http://www.heavens-above.com/

The Moon is located in Taurus and is 1.7 days old on May 1st at 0:00 UT. The Moon occults Saturn from part of Antarctica, New Zealand, and southern Australia, on May 14th. The Moon is at its greatest northern declination on May 2nd (+19.0 degrees) and May 30th (+19.0degrees). The Moon is at its greatest its greatest southern declination on May 16th (-19.0 degrees). Longitudinal libration is at maximum (+5.0 degrees) on May 26th and at minimum (-5.8 degrees) on May 12th. Latitudinal libration is at maximum (+6.9 degrees) on May 5th and at minimum (-6.8 degrees) on May 19th. Visit http://saberdoesthes...does-the-stars/ for tips on spotting extreme crescent Moons. Times and dates for the lunar light rays predicted to occur this month are available at http://www.lunar-occ...o/rays/rays.htm

The Sun is located in Aries on May 1st.

Brightness, apparent size, illumination, distance from the Earth in astronomical units, and location data for the planets and Pluto on May 1st: Mercury (magnitude -1.8, 5.2", 97% illuminated, 1.29 a.u., Aries), Venus (magnitude -4.1, 17.0", 67% illuminated, 0.98 a.u., Pisces), Mars (magnitude -1.2, 14.5", 98% illuminated, 0.64 a.u., Virgo), Jupiter (magnitude -2.0, 35.3", 99% illuminated, 5.59 a.u., Gemini), Saturn (magnitude +0.1, 18.6", 100% illuminated, 8.91 a.u., Libra), Uranus on May 16th (magnitude +5.9, 3.4", 100% illuminated, 20.78 a.u., Pisces), Neptune on May 16th (magnitude +7.9, 2.3", 100% illuminated, 30.18 a.u., Aquarius), and Pluto on May 16th (magnitude +14.1, 0.1", 100% illuminated, 31.97 a.u., Sagittarius).

In the evening, Mercury can be seen in the northwest, Mars in the south, Jupiter in the west, and Saturn in the southeast. Mars is located in the southwest, Jupiter in the northwest, and Saturn in the south at midnight. Venus is in the east, Saturn in the southwest, Uranus in the east, and Neptune in the southeast at dawn.

Mercury is at its brightest during the first half of May. It passes three degrees south of the bright open cluster M45 (the Pleiades) on May 7th. The speediest planet is farthest north of the ecliptic on May 13th and reaches greatest eastern elongation on May 25th.

Venus is positioned low in the eastern sky at morning twilight. The brightest planet is situated 1.3 degrees south of Uranus, which is some 9,000 times fainter, on May 15th and two degrees south of the waning crescent Moon on May 25th.

Mars decreases in brightness from magnitude -1.2 to -0.5 and shrinks in apparent diameter from 14.5 to 11.8 arc seconds this month. The north pole of the planet is tilted 25 degrees with respect to the Earth. Retrograde (westward) motion ends on May 21st. Syrtis Major is prominent during the first week of May. Look for Mare Cimmerium and Elysium during the second week of the month. Consult the Mars Profiler at http://www.skyandtel...watching-tools/ to determine which Martian surface features are visible.

Jupiter sets around 1:00 a.m. local time on May 1st and 11:00 p.m. on May 31st. The waxing crescent Moon passes five degrees to the south of Jupiter on May 4th. A shadow transit by Ganymede begins at 10:08 p.m. EDT on the night of May 5th, followed by a transit by Europa at 12:37 a.m. EDT. Double Galilean satellite shadow transits occur on May 13th, May 17th, May 20th, and May 27th. On the evening of May 30th, Callisto is the only one of the Galilean satellites visible from 10:57 p.m. to 12:55 a.m. EDT, since Europa is transiting Jupiter and Io and Ganymede are in occultation. Browse http://www.skyandtel...watching-tools/ in order to determine transit times of Jupiter’s central meridian by the Great Red Spot. That information is also displayed on page 52 of the May issue of Sky & Telescope. Data on the Galilean satellite events is available at http://www.skyandtel...watching-tools/

Saturn reaches opposition on May 10th and is visible for the entire night. On that date, the Ringed Planet shines at magnitude 0.0 and has an apparent equatorial diameter of 18.7 arc seconds. Its rings are inclined by 21.7 degrees and subtend 42.4 arc seconds. At opposition, Saturn is located 15 degrees south of the celestial equator and is 8.90 astronomical units or 74 light-minutes from the Earth. The article on pages 60 to 62 and 51 of the May issue of Astronomy discusses observing Saturn at opposition. Saturn’s variably bright moon Iapetus shines at magnitude 11.7, as it passes north of the planet on the night of May 6th. For further information on Saturn’s satellites, browse http://www.skyandtel...watching-tools/

At the end of the month, Uranus is visible low in the east in Pisces at dawn.

Neptune rises more than an hour earlier than Uranus. It rises three hours before sunrise by the middle of May. The gas giant is positioned between the fourth-magnitude star Lambda Aquarii and the fifth-magnitude star Sigma Aquarii this month.

Pluto lies in northern Sagittarius, about one half of a degree north of the fifth-magnitude star Xi1 Sagittarii. A finder chart is available at http://www.bluewater...2014_2_810K.jpg

For more on the planets and how to locate them, browse http://www.nakedeyeplanets.com/

Comet C/2012 K1 (PanSTARRS) shines at eighth magnitude as it travels south-eastward through Canes Venatici and Ursa Major. The comet passes two degrees north of the eighth-magnitude spiral galaxy M51 on the evening of May 1st. On May 20th, it glides very close to the tenth-magnitude spiral galaxy NGC 3726 in Ursa Major. An ephemeris is available at http://scully.cfa.ha...?d=c&o=CK12K010 and a finder chart on page 50 of the May issue of Sky & Telescope. Visit http://cometchasing.skyhound.com/ for additional information on this and other comets visible during May.

Asteroids 1 Ceres and 4 Vesta head southwestward through northern Virgo. They remain within three degrees of each other throughout the course of the month. The two brightest asteroids lie 15 degrees northeast of Mars. Finder charts can be found at http://d366w3m5tf081..._Vesta_2014.pdf and on page 53 of the May issue of Astronomy. Click on http://www.skyandtel...s-and-vesta-... for more on Ceres and Vesta. The following asteroids brighter than eleventh magnitude reach opposition this month: 9 Metis (magnitude 9.6), 15 Eunomia (magnitude 9.5), 45 Eugenia (magnitude 10.7), and 65 Cybele (magnitude 10.9). Consult http://www.minorplan...2014/index.html for ephemerides on all of these objects. Information on asteroid occultations taking place this month is available at http://www.asteroido.../2014_05_si.htm

A wealth of current information on solar system celestial bodies is posted at http://www.curtrenz.com/astronomical

Browse http://astrocast.tv/ for an informative video on astronomical events taking place this month.

A free star map for May can be downloaded at http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html and http://www.telescope...thly-Star-Chart

The famous eclipsing variable star Algol (Beta Persei) is at a minimum, decreasing in magnitude from 2.1 to 3.4, on May 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 23rd, 26th, and 29th. For more on Algol, see http://stars.astro.i.../sow/Algol.html and http://www.solstatio...ars2/algol3.htm

Eighty binary and multiple stars for May: 1 Bootis, Struve 1782, Tau Bootis, Struve 1785, Struve 1812 (Bootes); 2 Canum Venaticorum, Struve 1624, Struve 1632, Struve 1642, Struve 1645, 7 Canum Venaticorum, Alpha Canum Venaticorum (Cor Caroli), h2639, Struve 1723, 17 Canum Venaticorum, Otto Struve 261, Struve 1730, Struve 1555, h1234, 25 Canum Venaticorum, Struve 1769, Struve 1783, h1244 (Canes Venatici); 2 Comae Berenices, Struve 1615, Otto Struve 245, Struve 1633, 12 Comae Berenices, Struve 1639, 24 Comae Berenices, Otto Struve 253, Struve 1678, 30 Comae Berenices, Struve 1684, Struve 1685, 35 Comae Berenices, Burnham 112, h220, Struve 1722, Beta Comae Berenices, Burnham 800, Otto Struve 266, Struve 1748 (Coma Berenices); h4481, h4489, Struve 1604, Delta Corvi, Burnham 28, h1218, Struve 1669 (Corvus); H N 69, h4556 (Hydra); Otto Struve 244, Struve 1600, Struve 1695, Zeta Ursae Majoris (Mizar), Struve 1770, Struve 1795, Struve 1831 (Ursa Major); Struve 1616, Struve 1627, 17 Virginis, Struve 1648, Struve 1658, Struve 1677, Struve 1682, Struve 1689, Struve 1690, 44 Virginis, Struve 1719, Theta Virginis, 54 Virginis, Struve 1738, Struve 1740, Struve 1751, 81 Virginis, Struve 1764, Struve 1775, 84 Virginis, Struve 1788 (Virgo)

Notable carbon star for May: SS Virginis

One hundred and sixty-five deep-sky objects for May: NGC 5248 (Bootes); M3, M51, M63, M94, M106, NGC 4111, NGC 4138, NGC 4143, NGC 4151, NGC 4214, NGC 4217, NGC 4244, NGC 4346, NGC 4369, NGC 4449, NGC 4485, NGC 4490, NGC 4618, NGC 4631, NGC 4656, NGC 4868, NGC 5005, NGC 5033, NGC 5297, NGC 5353, NGC 5354, Up 1 (Canes Venatici); Mel 111, M53, M64, M85, M88, M91, M98, M99, M100, NGC 4064, NGC 4150, NGC 4203, NGC 4212, NGC 4251, NGC 4274, NGC 4278, NGC 4293, NGC 4298, NGC 4302, NGC 4314, NGC 4350, NGC 4414, NGC 4419, NGC 4448, NGC 4450, NGC 4459, NGC 4473, NGC 4474, NGC 4494, NGC 4559, NGC 4565, NGC 4651, NGC 4689, NGC 4710, NGC 4725, NGC 4874, NGC 5053 (Coma Berenices); NGC 4027, NGC 4038-9, NGC 4361 (Corvus); M68, M83, NGC 4105, NGC 4106, NGC 5061, NGC 5101, NGC 5135 (Hydra); M40, NGC 4036, NGC 4041, NGC 4051, NGC 4062, NGC 4085, NGC 4088, NGC 4096, NGC 4100, NGC 4144, NGC 4157, NGC 4605, NGC 5308, NGC 5322 (Ursa Major); M49, M58, M59, M60, M61, M84, M86, M87, M89, M90, M104, NGC 4030, NGC 4073, NGC 4168, NGC 4179, NGC 4206, NGC 4215, NGC 4216, NGC 4224, NGC 4235, NGC 4260, NGC 4261, NGC 4267, NGC 4281, NGC 4339, NGC 4343, NGC 4365, NGC 4371, NGC 4378, NGC 4380, NGC 4387, NGC 4388, NGC 4402, NGC 4429, NGC 4435, NGC 4438, NGC 4517, NGC 4526, NGC 4535, NGC 4536, NGC 4546, NGC 4550, NGC 4551, NGC 4567, NGC 4568, NGC 4570, NGC 4593, NGC 4596, NGC 4636, NGC 4638, NGC 4639, NGC 4643, NGC 4654, NGC 4666, NGC 4697, NGC 4698, NGC 4699, NGC 4753, NGC 4754, NGC 4760, NGC 4762, NGC 4866, NGC 4900, NGC 4958, NGC 5044, NGC 5054, NGC 5068, NGC 5077, NGC 5084, NGC 5087, NGC 5147, NGC 5170, NGC 5247, NGC 5363, NGC 5364 (Virgo)

Top ten deep-sky objects for May: M3, M51, M63, M64, M83, M87, M104, M106, NGC 4449, NGC 4565

Top ten deep-sky binocular objects for May: M3, M51, M63, M64, M84, M86, M87, M104, M106, Mel 111

Challenge deep-sky object for May: 3C 273 (Virgo)

The objects listed above are located between 12:00 and 14:00 hours of right ascension.


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