After a month of April marked by the dances of the planets in the sky, the astronomical events of May arrive with a new shower of stars and a lunar eclipse to end the month. Also, as always, there will be many conjunctions. For example, the Moon will land with Mercury on May 2, with Saturn on May 22, with Mars on May 24, with Jupiter on May 25, and with Venus on May 27. And we can also see conjunctions of two planets, such as Mars and Neptune on May 18 and Jupiter and Mars on May 29.
Of course, like every month, we will have a full moon surrounded by legends and a New Moon which will present a dark sky perfect for skywatching. Because, in reality, if there are no more extraordinary astronomical events, nothing like looking up and seeing what the sky has in store for us. There is always something beautiful to see.
In addition, the astronomical events of May are particularly interesting because they occur at an ideal time to pass a little night outside. In the northern hemisphere, spring brought much milder temperatures than the winter it leaves behind. And in the south it is still not as cold as the following months. Any time of the year is great for skywatching, but it’s definitely one of the best times.
Another Spring Meteor Shower
If April brought us the lyrids, the may astronomical events they also bring a rain of stars: the aquarids eta.
These are above average, as they can be observed up to 60 meteors per hour. Yes there is a big difference between the hemispheres. This amount is what is seen in the south, while in the north you usually see about half. That is, we can enjoy up to 30 meteors per hour. It’s not bad at all.
This rain of stars, coming from Dusty debris from Halley’s Cometthe past has begun April 19, so that it overlapped with the lyrids. However, its peak will occur in the night of May 6 to 7. After that, it will continue until May 28, two days before the new Moon.
There is a lot of time, but the best is to go and see them after midnight at its maximum. The Moon will be in a waxing phase, so there won’t be much brightness to hide the faintest meteors. With a little patience, one can surely see many stars ripping through the sky.
The Flower Moon will light up the sky on May 16
As we see in the astronomical events of each month, the Full Moon has a special name with a legendary origin. In this case, it is the moon flower. It is so called because Native Americans observed that it coincided with the appearance of most spring flowers.
However, it also goes by other names, such as Corn Plantation Moon or Milk Moon. The first is for obvious reasons. The second because it also coincided with the last late frosts.
A lunar eclipse to end the astronomical events of May
Coinciding with the Flower Moon, in the night of May 15 to 16 we will have a total lunar eclipse. That is to say, the Moon will be completely hidden in the shadow of the Earth, since it will be placed between our satellite and the Sun which illuminates it.
As is normal with these astronomical events, it will not be seen everywhere on the planet. This time, the lucky ones who will be able to enjoy the eclipse live will be those who live in all of North America, Greenland, the Atlantic Ocean, and parts of Western Europe and West Africa. In Mexico it will be completely visible, while in Spain it will only be seen before sunrise, when the Moon falls to hide on the horizon.
No instrument is necessary to see the eclipse, although logically the experience will be more rewarding with a telescope or binoculars. As for the people who live in the places where you will not be able to see each other, no problem. There will surely be some great photos to remember.