What's Up in The Sky Now
May 2020 (Notes by DMAS member Dave Lynch)
Finally some more of the planets in our solar system are coming back into the night sky as the weather begins to warm. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 Virus raging right now a lot of any viewing will probably be made from home.
MERCURY pops back into view this month and has a close encounter with Venus as its neighbor begins to slip lower and lower. Throughout the month Mercury will continue to rise higher and higher each night.
VENUS has been the sole planet in the sky for the past couple of months but it's time to say good-bye for now. At the start of the month Venus will set around three hours after sunset and by less than a half an hour at months end.
EARTH is quite honestly at a standstill right now and it's anybody's guess when it will start up again. Everyone stay safe and hope for better times and dark skies.
MARS is beginning to climb above the horizon about 3 am at the start of the month but speeds up to only two hours by months end. As the month goes on the Red Planet will continue to brighten to almost 0 magnitude.
JUPITER has an almost close encounter with Saturn in the middle of the month and then speeds up to pull away. Jupiter will rise around 1:30 am around here but will peek above the horizon almost two hours earlier by month's end.
SATURN is chasing Jupiter and rises soon after but begins to lag a little behind as the month progresses. The ring system, always a great sight, is at 21 degrees tilt this month. Close to the maximum 27 degree tilt. Always a beautiful sight.
URANUS is to close to the sun through most of the month of May but will finally escape the sun's glare by the end of the month. It will be visible around here just before sunrise by the end of May.
NEPTUNE has completed its trip past the sun and just peeks above the horizon about a half an hour before sunrise. No offense to Uranus or Neptune but the other planets becoming visible this month are much more exciting
PLUTO is still up there in the early morning, leading the way for Jupiter and Saturn.
Full Moon -> May 07
Last Quarter -> May 14
New Moon -> May 22
First Quarter -> May 30
Other topics this month:
COMET PANSTARRS (C/2017 T2) OVERHEAD:
This month we will have a good view of this comet as it moves almost directly overhead and passes right through the constellation of Ursa Major or the Big Dipper. Throughout the month of May this comet skims Camelopardalis and past Ursa Minor. By the end of the month it will cut directly through the body of the Big Dipper. This particular comet has never reached the brightness of a spectacular comet but close to the 24th of the month it passes close to M-81 and M-82. Good opportunity for a Kodak Moment. At best, the experts expect this comet to reach only 8th magnitude, but that is still bright enough it should be fairly easy to spot with binoculars.