Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma
Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma

Tonight's Sky

Explore the night sky each month with Kirkpatrick Planetarium Director Tom Arnold! Each month Tom will provide a sky chart, created using Digistar Technology, and a viewing guide with labeled constellations that are visible from inside Oklahoma City. You’ll be able to locate which prominent stars and planets are located in the evening sky and learn about the month’s astronomical events.
 
Tom has had a life-long passion for the night sky, with his early fascination leading to a professional career in astronomy. Whether you consider yourself an astronomer or not, we hope that by exploring Oklahoma’s night sky and learning how to identify stars and constellations, you find a similar sense of wonder. Below you will find information to discover our universe, just by looking up. 

To use the monthly star chart, hold the chart overhead, with the chart’s north marker pointing north.

Download the chart!

Tonight's Sky: Mars

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.)

 

Saturn - Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium

The Planets in May

Mercury
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.

Venus
Like Mercury, Venus will begin to emerge from the light of the setting sun this month.

Mars
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
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
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.  

Object of the Month M78, a reflection nebula


Location of M78

 

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.

Tonight's Sky - Lyrid Meteor Shower

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

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