Astronomy: The Week Ahead – Sun 10 May to Sat 16 May

night astro photography

Sit outside long enough at night with a camera, binoculars, a telescope or even the naked eye and you’ll be amazed at the things you’ll see!


Sunday May 10

The Last Quarter Moon occurs at 03:36 PDT early tomorrow morning. You can watch it rise late tonight in the constellation Aquarius. The bright stars Altair will be directly above it in the constellation Aquila.


Monday May 11

Here’s another opportunity to see a nice shadow transit on Jupiter before the planet leaves our skies. Io’s Shadow Transit begins at 20:39 PDT and will continue until 23:01. Start watching as soon as the shadow transit begins, and you can see the entire event. Io will be nearly on the meridian, and the Great Red Spot (GRS) will be plainly in view. Notice how much faster Io’s shadow transits than the GRS.


Tuesday May 12

An hour after sunset you can enjoy the view of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury forming a gentle arc along the ecliptic, through Cancer, Gemini and on the horizon, Taurus, all above our western horizon.

Notice as well, how late the sky is now darkening. We are closing in on the summer solstice, longest daylight of the year in the northern hemisphere, just over one month away.


Wednesday May 13

The constellation Hydra stretches across the southern horizon shortly after sunset this time of year. Its snake head is just below Jupiter tonight. Compare its brightest magnitude 1.96 star Alphard, 177 light years distant, with Leo’s Regulus at magnitude 1.34 and 78 light years away. Hydra ends below Virgo, and its brightest star Spica, magnitude 0.96 and 263 light years from us.


Thursday May 14

The beautiful double star Albireo is the head of Cygnus the swan, and located between the bright stars Vega and Altair, in Lyra and Aquila, respectively.

Albireo is famous for its colors. The primary component has a yellow/gold tone, and its companion a sapphire blue. Color vision varies greatly between people, what colors do you see?

Any telescope will split the pair, as Albireo is a wide pair at 35 arcseconds separation. Look too for a very old Moon, rising low in the east in Pisces.


Friday May 15

Saturn clears low local hills now, an hour after sunset, allowing us many hours to enjoy this beautiful ringed planet. Soon, it will be rising at sunset, and setting at sunrise, when Saturn is at opposition. Opposition is when the earth is directly between the sun and an outer planet.

Saturn’s opposition this year precedes summer by one month, on May 22


Saturday May 16

NGC 4565 is a classic edge on spiral galaxy. It has a distinctive dust lane nearly bisecting the length of its well defined edge. Notice the small round core, where the dust lane is most apparent.

It is located in the dim constellation Coma Berenices, between Bootes brightest stars Arcturus, and the end star Denebola in Leo. At 13.8×2.19 arcseconds, this is a large galaxy in the eyepiece, and reasonably bright at magnitude 10.4. It is part of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster, located at a distance of 30 to 50 million light years.

Happy viewing!



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