Astronomy Events In May 2019

The fifth month of the year promises some good celestial events. With the summers approaching in the northern hemisphere, it is time to bid adieu to constellations such as Orion and Taurus. Let us have a glance at the top Astronomy Events In May 2019.

May 4: New Moon

The Moon will be lost in the glare of the Sun for few days. Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun. By first quarter, in a week's time, it will be visible until around midnight.

May 6: Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

The flagship event of May, the Eta Aquarids is set to put a show over the first weekend of this month. Did you miss the Halley's comet in 1986? Well, you can watch its legacy in the Eta Aquarid Shower, which is nothing but the trail of the comet. Viewers near the equator and in the southern hemisphere will get the best view. Look for the radiant (point from where all the meteors appear to originate) in the constellation of Aquarius as shown below. The shower won't be visible from India and countries northwards.


May 18: Close Approach of Venus And Uranus

The view of Uranus and Venus at 5:30 IST over New Delhi (Image: Dominic Ford, In-The-Sky)

At 8:08 GMT on May 18, Venus will pass 1°09' to the south of Uranus. The pair will be difficult, but not impossible to observe. Look for a bright "morning star" in the East direction at dawn. Uranus is invisible with the naked eye. Although the pair will be too widely separated to fit in a telescopic view, you can look for Uranus on the upper left of Venus by adjusting the telescope. The duo will be in the constellation of Aries.

May 19: Blue Moon

The Moon will reach its full phase on May 19 and will be called as the Blue Moon. But how can a first full moon of the month be the Blue Moon? Well, this is the seasonal Blue Moon. A season is the period between an equinox and the solstice. The third of the four full moons of the season is known as the Blue Moon. Believe it or not, the Seasonal definition of the Blue Moon is older than the Monthly definition. On May 19, the Moon will be in Libra.

Over the nights following 19 May, the Moon will rise a little under an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, around a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon.

May 22: Conjunction Of Moon And Saturn

At 22:14 UTC (May 23, 3:44 IST) The Moon and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 0°31' to the south of Saturn. The Moon will be 18 days old.

Astronomy Events in May
At 3:44 IST, Saturn and Moon will be at conjunction (Image: Dominic Ford, In-The-Sky)

In the above image, the three pink dots together from left to right are Pluto, Moon and Saturn. Out of these, only Moon and Saturn will be observable with the naked eye. The Moon will be at mag -12.4, and Saturn at mag 0.2, both in the constellation Sagittarius.

Also Read: The Concept of mag in Astrophysics

The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

May 24: Mercury At Perihelion

At 7:18 UTC on May 24, the smallest planet of our solar system will reach its closest point to the Sun - its perihelion - 0.31 AU from the Sun.

Also Read: The Concept of light year, parsec and AU in Astronomy

Its distance from the Sun varies between 0.307 AU at perihelion (closest approach to the Sun), and 0.467 AU at aphelion (furthest recess from the Sun). This variation, of over 50%, means that its surface receives over twice as much energy from the Sun at perihelion as compared to aphelion.

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Also Read: Basics of Astrophysics Series

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