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The May Night Sky

The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.

 Astronomy Picture of the Day

See below Hubble site Tonight's Sky, highlights of this months night sky movie with narration below. Click on photo below.

The Full Moon for May

Full Flower Moon May In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon. Courtesy: Farmers Almanac.

Lunar Phase

New Moon May 6 3:30 pm EDT
First Quarter Moon May 13 1:02 pm EDT
Full Moon May 21 5:14 pm EDT
Last Quarter Moon May 29 8:22 am EDT

May Visible Lunar Highlights

May 29- Neptune 1.4 S. of Moon.

The Planets Visibility for May


Lost in glare of the Sun except on May 9th when it becomes visible as it transits the Sun.


Lost in the glare of the Sun

Venus will be lost from view until later in the year when it reappears in the evening sky.


SE Evening to Morning SW Sky 

Mars appears larger and brighter than at any time in the last 10 years. Mars, reaches closest approach May 30th. Mars at its nearest this year is about 46.8 million miles away. Mars midmonth is at -2.0 magnitude with a diameter 0000'19" located in the constellation Scorpius  rising at 7:30 pm. and sets at 5:06 am.. Mars on the 30th is highest in the sky at around 12:20 am.. Mars and Earth are growing nearer to each other and Mars details become more visible over the next few weeks. Even a small telescope can reveal surface markings on the planet. Below is image showing Mars features visible at 12:20 am on Sunday May30, 2016.

To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.

Mars location below shows position of Mars and Saturn May 30th which are 1500'50" (=degrees, 00'=arc minutes, "= arc seconds) from each other. See: How to find degrees.


 Evening sky S to Morning Sky W

Jupiter on May 29th is visible after sunset high in the southern evening sky in the constellation Leo the Lion at -2.1 magnitude with a diameter 0000'37". Jupiter is the brightest planet in the sky after sunset. Jupiter sets at 2:09 am. When you look at Jupiter your seeing the planet as it appeared 36 minutes ago due to the speed of light. A small telescope will easily reveal four of Jupiter's largest and brightest moons. Check out Sky & Telescope's Jupiter Moons Utility for other configurations. Sky and Telescope Red Spot Calculator 

Jupiter's location below for June 29th at 9:00 pm.


Evening ESE to SW Morning Sky 

Saturn midmonth May is at 0.1 magnitude and diameter 0000'.18". Saturn is in the constellation Ophiuchus rising midmonth at 9:34 pm in the southeast sky. Mars and Saturn are about 10 degrees apart on the 15th. apart on the 22nd. See image below for Saturn location May 8th. Saturn and Mars are 0858'59" (degrees) from each other. See: How to find degrees.

Through a small telescope Saturn will reveal the famous rings of the planet. Rings currently are +26.1 tilt. See: Saturn's moons locations


Still difficult to find in the dawn sky due to the sun..

 A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope


Morning Sky ESE

Neptune midmonth is at 7.9 magnitude and diameter 0000'.02". Neptune is in the constellation Aquarius rising at 2:51 am.

See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

Bright Asteroids

Asteroid 7 Iris midmonth is at 9.8 magnitude is in the constellation Ophiuchus just  0425'08" (degrees) southeast of Saturn. See image below for location of 7Iris on May 15th.

Dwarf Planets


Morning Sky 

 Pluto in May is in the morning sky rising at midnight and is highest in the sky at 4:40 am.  Pluto is located amid the stars of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is at magnitude +14.2 and diameter 0000'.00".


C/2013 X1 ( PanSTARRS 

Comet 2013 X1 PanSTARRS rising on May 21st at 2:49 am is estimated at 6.9 magnitude located in the constellation Aquarius. C/2013 X1 ( PanSTARRS ) is expected to brighten up to 5 - 6th magnitude from spring to summer. This comet is currently low in the southeastern sky and best observable before sunrise. Comet C/2013X1 location below for May21st at 5:00 am.

For more on current Comets and locations see: Sky & Telescope also Seiichi Yoshida web site here.


No Major Meteor Showers for June

See: Listen to Meteors , American Meteor Society, Meteors Online also NASA All Sky Network

Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.

Satellites Visible from York

Satellites visible from Hanover

Satellites visible from Gettysburg

Satellites visible from Lancaster

Satellites visible from Baltimore

Satellites visible from Harrisburg

Also see: Spaceflight NASA


The Sun

Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.

 If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND

See explanation of  solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials


Use your hand to find degrees

NASA Night Sky Network Planner

Free download. AstroPlanner  

Download a free starmap at: Skymaps

Make your own starmap at: Star Finder

Download a free Planetarium for your computer at: Stellarium or Hallo Northern Sky Stellarium has many extra features.

Your Sky - Fourmilab

Your night sky map on the internet

Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart Register to use.

Sky Map