The Sky in May
|Mon. 3rd||Last Quarter Moon|
|Thurs. 6th||Eta Aqurid Meteor Shower|
|Tues. 11th||New Moon|
|Sun. 16th||Mars is 1.5o south of the moon|
|Wed. 19th||First Quarter Moon|
|Wed. 26th||Full Moon (This will be the largest Full Moon in 2021.)|
To use the monthly star chart, hold the chart overhead, with the chart’s north marker pointing north.
Mercury will emerge from the sun’s light in the early evening sky and will be the most visible on May 13 with the planet shining at a bright 0 magnitude. The planet will reach its highest point in the sky on Monday, May 17 and begin fading quickly in the coming days as it moves closer to Earth with a decreasing phase angle. On May 23, Mercury and Venus will be fairly close together, but by then, Mercury will have dimmed to magnitude 2.3.
Like Mercury, Venus will begin to emerge from the light of the setting sun this month.
The planet will be in the constellation Gemini, joining Pollux and Castor for a triplet late in the month. By then, the planet will be shining at magnitude 1.7.
Jupiter remains in Aquarius, dominating the early morning sky. On May 6, it provides a good reference point for locating the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.
Saturn remains in Capricorn this month but will begin a slow reverse of direction and retrograde, as the Earth passes the ringed planet. This retrograde motion will only be noticed over many days of observation.
An interesting reflection nebula in Orion, M78 is 1,350 light-years from Earth. Part of the massive molecular cloud complex within Orion, it’s an easy target in a small telescope under dark skies as a hazy patch surrounding two fairly dim stars. The light from young stars in the process of forming, Herbig-Haro objects, helps illuminate this nebula complex. They are assisted by a group of irregular variable stars called T-Tauri which are also in the beginning of stellar life. Together these stars create a scene illustrating the cold, vastness of space.
The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower will peak during the evening between May 5-6. This is one of two annual meteor showers created by debris from Halley’s comet. The other Halley-created shower is the Orionids which peaks on October 20. The radiant for this shower is in the constellation Aquarius and just left of the bright planet Jupiter in the morning sky. With the possibility of up to 50 meteors per hour, the shower has the potential of being a very interesting event. For Oklahoma City, this chart will assist with observing times and directions.
NOTE: Azimuth is the direction based on true north. Altitude is the height in degrees above the horizon.
Sky Location of Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower