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Evening Planet:

Mercury is visible for the 1st week of May in the WNW at Dusk. Each evening the planet is quickly losing altitude and brightness as it moves into the bright glow of Sunset. Around the 9th of May, the planet moves into the bright glow of Sunset and is lost from view. Once Mercury leaves the Dusk evening sky; the evening sky will again be void of bright planets. There will be no bright planets in the evening sky until late summer.

Morning Planets:

Saturn is the first morning planet to rise in the SE. The planet rises well before Dawn breaks, around 2 am. Each morning Saturn rises a bit earlier and moves a tiny bit further West.

Mars rises about 1 hour after Saturn in the ESE. As the month progresses, Mars gains a tiny amount of brightness. The dull looking planet will have a nice conjunction with Jupiter at the end of the month.

At the start of the month both Venus and Jupiter rise together around 4 am in the ESE. The 2 planets are relatively close to each other for the first few days of May. However, each planet will go its own way and have a different fate.

Venus moves lower into the bright Dawn twilight and moves a bit Eastward. As the month progresses, Venus loses a bit of brightness. For the next few months. Venus will be stuck in this mediocre position for the rest of its morning showing.

Jupiter has a better fate than Venus. Each morning Jupiter is rising up a bit earlier and has some movement Westward. The planet also has a slight gain in brightness. The planet is leaving Venus behind and is heading towards Mars. At the end of the month, Jupiter has a close conjunction with Mars.

2 May Thin Crescent Moon above Mercury, Dusk

6 May  Waxing Crescent Moon upper left of bright star Pollux, Dusk

6 May Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower

9 May Moon near bright star Regulus, Dusk

13 May Waxing Gibbous Moon upper left of bright star Spica

15-16 May Total Lunar Eclipse

16 May  Just past Full Moon left of bright star Antares, Late Evening

25 May  Jupiter, Mars and Moon form a rough Triangle, Dawn

29 May  Jupiter and Mars close conjunction, Dawn

30-31 May  Possible SW3 New Meteor Shower ?

Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower:

This meteor shower has a very limited short showing in the Pre – Dawn sky of 6 May. This meteor shower comes out of the Constellation of Aquarius. This constellation doesn’t rise until about 3 am on the morning of the 6 May. There’s a short 1 hour observing window of dark sky until 4 am when Dawn breaks. After that as Dawn brightens, the bright Eastern sky will soon overpower the few meteors visible. About 15 meteors per hour are predicted for that short observing window. The Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower is known for producing a few yellow-colored meteors which may leave trails behind. This meteor shower is unfavorable for our viewing area.

May’s Total Lunar Eclipse:

On the night of 15-16 May, there will be a Total Lunar Eclipse visible from our viewing area. The entire Lunar Eclipse will be visible from our viewing area if skies are clear.

Here’s the Time Table of the Lunar Eclipse:

15 May Partial Lunar Eclipse Begins          10:28 pm EDST

15 May Total Eclipse Begins                         11:29 pm EDST

16 May Mid Eclipse                                         12:12 am EDST

16 May End of Total Eclipse                         12:54 am EDST

16 May End of Partial Lunar Eclipse          01:54 am EDST

It is predicted that due to the Moon path through the Umbra Shadow, the Southern or lower part of the Moon should be brighter than the Northern part or top part of the Moon. It will be interesting to see what colors the Total Lunar Eclipse will reveal. This eclipse could have a range of colors from dark brown, red, to orange. This Total Lunar Eclipse is very favorable for our viewing area. This is our best eclipse of the year. Binoculars are a nice way to view this eclipse.

Possible SW3 New Meteor Shower?

Back in the Spring of 2006, a comet called 73 P/Schwassmann Watchmann was to do an orbital return run by Earth. When the comet returned; it was discovered that the comet was disintegrating and had broken up into many small pieces. Some of these small broken pieces of this comet could come back to Earth on the night of 30-31 May 2022 if the Computer Modeling Predictions are correct. If these broken scattered pieces come back; these pieces will burn up in our atmosphere and could cause a meteor shower. The predicted return of these pieces is around 1 am EDST on the morning of 31 May. However, there is a chance that the computer predictions are wrong and nothing happens on that night. The model predictions are all over the place when it comes to predicting the possible number of meteors, anything from 14 -140 meteors per hour. This is definitely a “Wild Card Observing Event” and may not come to pass. It may be worthwhile to take a look up into the sky on that night to see if the prediction did come true.

Gary T. Nowak

Vermont Astronomical Society