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What's Up...
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...



The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal
astro-experiences to look forward to.


May 1 – May will belong to Mars and its long awaited run to opposition on the 21st. Tonight Mars will pose just north of its rival and colour-mate Antares. The two will be separated by about the width of three fingers.

Wed. May  4 - The Eta Aquarid meteor shower will arrive this evening and will peak in the early morning hours tomorrow.  The Eta Aquarids do not count as one of the most prominent meteor showers, at least from our latitude, however there is no bright Moon to interfere so it could be well worthwhile to look to the southeastern pre-dawn sky to spot shower members radiating upwards from the vicinity of Aquarius' water jar.

Fri. May 6 – There will be a double shadow transit event tonight at Jupiter. The tiny shadows of Callisto and Io will transit Jupiter’s disk from 9.39pm to 10.42pm. This is also New Moon night, the heart of the dark moon observing, sketching and imaging period.

Sat. May 7 – It is always a thrill to see a very thin crescent Moon. Tonight a fingernail pairing Moon can be seen setting in the twilit western sky. Bright Aldebaran will be looking on from the upper left to provide a handy finger post.

Mon. May 9 –  One of the most exciting ‘live action’ demonstrations of celestial mechanics will be on display today as the planet Mercury transits the disk of the Sun. In B.C. the Sun will rise with the seven hour transit already underway, and filter equipped telescopes will show the tiny black disk making its way across the face of the Sun. This event will not be repeated until 2019!

Fri. May 13 – The First Quarter Moon will come close to bright Regulus in Leo tonight. Brilliant Jupiter will look on from the upper left.

Sat. May 14 – Tonight the waxing Moon will come within the width of two middle fingers from Jupiter.

Wed. May 18 – Keeping an eye on Mars, you will find it two Moon widths north of delta Scorpii in tonight’s sky.

Sat. May 21 – This is a special night since it marks the time when Mars reaches its biennial opposition, with its warm orange colour gleaming in the sky. Perhaps a bit jealous, the Full Moon will blaze to its upper left.

Sun. May 22 – The just past Full Moon will rise in the southeast in twilight with Saturn about the width of two fingers to its right.

Sun. May 29 – This is Last Quarter Moon night, heralding the approach of the monthly dark moon observing period.

Mon. May 30 – While the actual date of Mars’ opposition was May 22, the elongation of Mars’ orbit will bring it closest to the Earth tonight, and it will appear 18.6 arc seconds across, the largest and closest it has appeared since 2005. Makes you look forward to July of 2018 when it will subtend 24.3 arc seconds, though the closest approaches appear lower in our northern hemisphere sky, so we should make the most of this one.