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Sky Report

This is the monthly Griffith Observatory Sky Report.

May, 2022

 

 

 

This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the period between May 1 and May 31, 2022. Here are the events happening in the sky of southern California.

Mercury sets at 9:19 p.m., PDT, and the sun sets at 7:37 p.m., PDT, on the 1st. The planet is 51-percent illuminated and 8.4 arcseconds wide. By the 15th, Mercury will be close to the sun and unobservable. On the 31st Mercury is in the morning sky and rises at 5:08 a.m., PDT, with sunrise at 5:43 a.m., PDT. Do not observe any planet when it appears close to the sun, for the danger to the eyes is great.

Venus rises at 4:13 a.m., PDT, and the sun rises at 6:04 a.m., PDT, on the 1st. The planet is 68-percent illuminated and 17 arcseconds in width. On the 31st, Venus rises at 4:56 a.m., PDT, and the sun rises at 5:43 a.m., PDT; its disk is 78-percent illuminated and 14 arcseconds in width.  The disk of Venus slowly shrinks in size and becomes more fully illuminated as it moves to the far side of its orbit. On the 1st, Venus is about a degree east of Jupiter and moves slowly away from Jupiter each night.

Mars rises in Aquarius at 3:32 a.m., PDT, on the 1st. On the 31st, Mars rises at 2:33 a.m., PDT. The disk of Mars is only 5.7 arcseconds wide and will not show any surface features through a telescope. On the 17th, Mars is half a degree south of Neptune.  On the 28th and 29th, Mars is three-quarters of a degree south of Jupiter.

Jupiter rises in Pisces at 4:11 a.m., PDT, on the 1st and rises at 2:28 a.m., PDT, on the 31st. A telescope capable of magnification 50x will show the Red Spot, and the four bright Galilean moons may be seen moving back and forth, roughly in a line centered on Jupiter.

Saturn rises in Capricornus at 2:39 a.m., PDT, on the 1st and at 12:44 a.m., PDT, on the 31st. The rings and Saturn’s largest moon Titan may be seen with a telescope capable of magnification 50x.

Uranus starts May close to the sun and is unobservable for most of the month. On the 31st, Uranus rises in Aries at 4:23 a.m., PDT, and the sun rises at 5:43 a.m., PDT. On the 15th, Uranus is at Right Ascension 2h 50m 58s with a declination of +16° 1ʹ 56ʺ. Uranus is only 3.4 arcseconds wide, and so a telescope with a magnification of 150x is needed to show its diminutive disk.

Neptune rises in Aquarius at 4:02 a.m., PDT, on the 1st and at 2:06 a.m., PDT, on the 31st. On the 15th, Neptune is at Right Ascension 23h 42m 6s, declination -3° 3ʹ 52ʺ.

First quarter occurs on the 8th, full moon on the 15th, last quarter on the 22nd, and new moon on the 30th.

SPECIAL EVENTS

A total lunar eclipse occurs on the evening of May 15. This will be a very deep eclipse. The moon rises at 7:41 p.m., PDT, after it already enters the penumbra at 6:22 p.m. PDT, and the umbra at 7:28 p.m., PDT. It will, then, be in the earth’s shadow before it rises. The moon will be fully eclipsed by 8:29 p.m., PDT, and will start to leave the umbra at 9:54 p.m., PDT.  The moon will completely leave the umbra at 10:55 p.m., PDT, and will leave the penumbra at 11:51 p.m., PDT. Any location with a clear view of the moon can see this eclipse, and binoculars will show the changing appearance of the moon.

The eta Aquariid meteor shower will peak from the evening of the 4th through the morning of the 5th. The moon will set at 11:37 p.m., PDT. The meteors come from comet Halley. They are named for the star in Aquarius the Water Bearer from which they appear to originate. From the northern hemisphere the eta Aquariids usually produce ten to 30 meteors per hour just before dawn. The meteors are swift with persistent trains but few fireballs.

Comet C/2021 O3 (PanSTARRS) might be bright enough to be seen with binoculars. Its brightness will depend on many factors.  The coordinates for it are
May 1               3h 33m 13s         +23° 46ʹ 55ʺ      9°    above the western horizon at sunset
May 15             4h 32m 31s         +63° 36ʹ 07ʺ      29° above the western horizon at sunset

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