We completed a half orbit around the Sun since I wrote the November Night Sky. It felt like yesterday, but it has been 6 months ago. The time is cruel… 

The days are already quite a bit longer and are still getting longer. Stargazing is getting more difficult in this part of the world. However, there is still plenty to see this month. Let us have a quick look at the May Night Sky. 

Planets and the Moon 

Image Credit: Stellarium  

There are five planets visible to the naked eye. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They all look quite bright in the night sky since they are nearby (on the cosmic scale) objects and reflect the sunlight. However, this May is unfortunate for planet observation. All these planets are quite close to the Sun in the sky (from our point of view) and thus, they all either rise right before the Sun or set right after the Sun. The Moon joins these planets on May the 4th and causes an interesting view (below). If your East-Southeast horizon is clear, then your best bet is seeing Saturn right before the sunrise during the month for planet observation. 

Constellations and Stars 

There are several bright constellations we can look at this month. Leo, Virgo, Boötes, and the circumpolar constellations like Ursa Major, Cassiopea and Cepheus.  

The Sun will be in the Constellation Aries during the first two weeks of the month, and then on the 14th of May, it is going to enter Taurus where Jupiter is. After the Sun, Venus, Uranus, and Mercury are going to join the party one by one until the last day of the month (below). This is a golden month for astrologers, they can make up so many different stories easily! 

Image Credit: Stellarium

Also, this month we will start seeing the Summer Triangle made of Vega, Altair, and Deneb. If you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope, try to see Albireo in the constellation Cygnus. This is a binary star system and one of the members is a blue star and the other member is a yellow star (this was the surprise I mentioned in the November Night Sky)! 

 

 

Meteor Showers 

The meteor shower of the month is Eta Aquariids. These are swift meteors originating from the famous comet Halley that can produce persistent trains, however, the fireball rate of this meteor shower is pretty low. Eta Aquariids will peak on May 5-6. In the best observation conditions (without light pollution and with crystal clear sky), it is possible to see up to 30 meteors every hour (from the Southern Hemisphere up to 50 meteors every hour). If you like to see many shooting stars and make many wishes, then you should look at the East-SouthEast direction before sunrise. You do not need any instruments; meteor showers are best observed with the naked eye. Just sit/lay somewhere comfortable and look at the horizon since the radiant point is quite low in the night sky. 

Image Credit: meteorshowers.org

Northern Lights 

The Sun is quite active nowadays. It is expected to see even more activity over the upcoming months. And the more active the Sun the more northern lights! So, this month may be a Northern Lights month! It would significantly increase your chances of seeing an aurora if you kept an eye on the aurora alerts. There are a few websites/apps that you can follow for these alerts. For more information, please see the following link: https://aurorawatch.lancs.ac.uk/alerts/ 

We recently released our new homemade live dome show, Our Night Sky. It is an interactive virtual stargazing show, probably the best way to start stargazing. Also, if light pollution and the clouds do not let you have a nice night, joining our virtual stargazing at the Planetarium is strongly recommended! 

Clear skies! 

Kerem Osman Çubuk