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Sky Report

This is the monthly Griffith Observatory Sky Report.

Sky Report

May, 2024

 

This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the period between May 1 and May 31, 2024. Here are the events happening in the sky of southern California.

Mercury rises in the east at 5:07 a.m., PDT, on the 1st, and the sun rises at 6:03 a.m., PDT, 56 minutes later. Mercury is 26-percent illuminated and 9.6 arcseconds wide. On the 31st, Mercury rises in the east-northeast at 4:54 a.m., PDT, and the sun rises at 5:43 a.m., PDT, 49 minutes later. Mercury is 80-percent illuminated and 5.7 arcseconds wide. Do not observe any planet when it comes close to the sun, for the danger to the eyes is great.

Venus is close to the sun all month long and is unobservable. Do not observe any planet when it comes close to the sun, for the danger to the eyes is great.

Mars moves from Pisces the Fishes into Cetus the Sea Monster on the 9th and then moves back into Pisces on the 13th. On the 1st, Mars rises in the east at 4:18 a.m., PDT. The planet is 94-percent illuminated and 4.7 arcseconds wide. On the 31st, Mars rises in the east at 3:20 a.m., PDT, and is 92-percent illuminated and 5.0 arcseconds wide.

Jupiter is in Taurus the Bull.  On the 1st, Jupiter sets in the west at 8:34 p.m., PDT, and the sun sets at 7:38 p.m., PDT, 56 minutes earlier. On the 8th, the sun sets at 7:43 p.m., PDT, and Jupiter sets in the west-northwest at 8:15 p.m., PDT, 32 minutes later. Jupiter will be too close to the sun until the 31st, when it rises in the east-northeast at 5:14 a.m., PDT, 29 minutes before the sun rises. Jupiter is 100-percent illuminated and 33 arcseconds wide. A telescope capable of magnification 50x will show the Red Spot, and the four bright Galilean moons also can be seen moving back and forth, across and behind Jupiter.

Saturn is in Aquarius the Water Bearer. On the 1st, Saturn rises in the east at 3:44 a.m., PDT, and on the 31st, the planet rises at 1:52 a.m., PDT. Saturn is 16 arcseconds wide. The rings and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, may be seen with a telescope capable of magnification 50x.

Uranus is in Aries the Ram. On the 1st, Uranus rises in the east-northeast at 6:40 a.m., PDT, only 37 minutes after the sun. On the 31st, Uranus rises at 4:48 a.m., PDT, 55 minutes before the sun rises. On the 15th, Uranus is at Right Ascension 3h 23m 30s, declination +18° 19ʹ 00ʺ. Uranus is 3.4 arcseconds wide, and a magnification of 200x is needed to see its disk.

Neptune is in the constellation Pisces the Fishes. On the 1st, Neptune rises in the east at 4:14 a.m., PDT. On the 31st, Neptune rises at 2:17 a.m., PDT. On the 15th, Neptune is at Right Ascension 23h 59m 27s, declination -1° 24ʹ 44ʺ. Neptune’s disk is 2.3 arcseconds wide, and a magnification of 200x is needed to see its disk.

The last quarter moon occurs on the 1st, new moon on the 7th, first quarter on the 15th, full moon on the 23rd, and last quarter again on the 30th.

SPECIAL EVENTS

The eta Aquariid meteor shower will occur from the night of May 16 through May 27. The meteors come from comet Halley. They are named for the star in Aquarius the Water Bearer, from which they appear to originate. The shower is best seen from the southern hemisphere. From the northern hemisphere, it usually produces medium rates of 10 to 20 meteors per hour just before dawn. The meteors are swift with a high percentage of persistent trains but few fireballs. The peak occurs from the evening of the 4th to the morning of the 5th. On that night, the moon is a crescent, 14-percent illuminated, and after midnight it will not interfere.

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Lunar Calendar

 

May 1 marks the Last Quarter moon. The 2nd to the 9th shows the moon waning, where the moon’s illuminated surface diminishes until the New Moon on the 7th. Starting from the 8th until the 15th, the moon is waxing which means more of its surface is illuminated. The First Quarter is on the 22nd, and the Full Moon is on the 23rd. From the 24th onward, the moon wanes again.

May 1 marks the Last Quarter moon. The 2nd to the 9th shows the moon waning, where the moon’s illuminated surface diminishes until the New Moon on the 7th. Starting from the 8th until the 15th, the moon is waxing which means more of its surface is illuminated. The First Quarter is on the 22nd, and the Full Moon is on the 23rd. From the 24th onward, the moon wanes again.

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