What’s Up, Up in the Sky, This May
- May 6, 7 – Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has been observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. It peaks this year on the night of May 6 and the morning of the May 7. The second quarter moon will block out some of the faintest meteors this year. But if you are patient, you should still should be able to catch quite a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
- May 11 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 19:01 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
- May 17 – Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 22 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.
- May 26 – Full Moon, Supermoon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 11:14 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. This is also the second of three supermoons for 2021. The Moon will be near its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.
- May 26 – Total Lunar Eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout the Pacific Ocean and parts of eastern Asia, Japan, Australia, and western North America. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)