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Urban Observing May 2013 May 4, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, Urban Observing.
Tags: , , , ,


May gets off to a great start for planet lovers, with Jupiter setting in the west and Saturn rising in the east around sunset.


Looking east at 5 AM May 5th. Delphinus and Aquila are at the top.

Looking east at 5 AM May 5th. Delphinus and Aquila are at the top.

Also at the start of this month, peaking around the 5th, 6th or 7th (it’s not a sharp peak),  are the Eta Aquariid meteor shower. A waning crescent Moon passes though Aquarius on the 5th, which either will help you figure out which way to look, or light up the area more than you’d like. The best Time for northern observers will be about 3 AM to 5 AM.


Saturn was in opposition on April 28, so it will be up all night this month, and relatively close to the earth. This means May really is the best month for Saturn this year. The ring tilt is just under 20° this month making the ring divisions easier to spot. Of course, this also spreads the moons out more, making them harder to tell apart from background stars. The moon passes less than 4° from Saturn the 23rd. There’s a Sky & Tel app for the Moons: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/planets/3308506.html


Meanwhile, Jupiter drifts further and further into the twilight this month. it is joined at the end of the month by both Mercury and Venus. Look for the moon and Jupiter close together on the 12th, and a tight  grouping of Jupiter, Mercury and Venus between the 26th through 29th.


Eclipse Anular

Eclipse Anular (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The new Moon occurs on the 9th. Observers in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Kiribati will get to see you annular solar eclipse that day. The rest of us might want to look at services like Slooh.com and NASA for remote observations.


Two weeks later the full moon occurs on the 25th. This coincides with perigee, so this would count as this year’s “Supermoon”. Keep in mind this size change isn’t really noticeable unless you’re actually using something to measure the size of the Moon every month. A penumbral eclipse also occurs that day. Observers over Europe might notice an ever so slight dimming of theMoon,  but probably not, unless you’re using a photometer.




1. 100saros - May 8, 2013

eta-Aquariids were great down in South Africa on the 6th and the moon didn’t bother too much

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