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Monthly Sky Report - May 2007

GETTING DIRECTIONS - To find the planets, bright stars and groups, you need to know the compass directions where you watch the sky. Lacking a compass, you can use the sun at the start, middle and end of the day. As you face the rising sun - it will be rising in the East Northeast. In mid day, look at your shadow which then points North. The sun will set in the West Northwest.

ALL THRU MAY. During May, there is an average of 14.3 hours of sunlight each day. During May, the sunsets slide forward from 8:08 p.m. to 8:33 p.m. Sunrises change from 6:10 a.m. early in the month to 5:48 a.m. at month's end. Stars begin to fade away an hour before sunrise and the star groups come into view an hour after sunset. In the early evening, there is an arch of bright stars in the West, with Procyon on the left, Pollux and Castor of Gemini on top and golden Capella on the right. Within the arch is the brilliant planet Venus, outshining all night stars and appearing first within 20 minutes of sunset. Above and to the left of the western arch is the planet Saturn. Both Saturn and Venus shine steadily, compared to the flickering of even the brightest night stars. The other bright stars are golden Arcturus high in the South and white-blue Vega in the East. The Big Dipper is high in the North with its two top scoop stars pointing down and right to the North Star. The Dipper's handle can be extended to the bright golden star Arcturus.

SIGHTS FOR EARLY MAY '07. The evening moon appears full on the evenings of May 1st and 2nd. On the 1st, the moon is in Virgo, moving the next evening into Libra. Before brilliant Venus sets in the late evening in the West Northwest, the bright planet Jupiter appears low in the East Southeast. Venus appears brighter due to its closer distance to both the Earth and sun. On the late evening of May 4th, the moon will appear between Jupiter (on left) and the pinkish star Antares of the Scorpion.

SIGHTS FOR MID MAY '07. The moon is mainly seen in the morning sky, lying to the west of the sun. The early evening will then be great for viewing the bright stars with the remaining winter stars in the West, the spring stars in the South and the summer stars in the East. The planet Mercury slowly creeps upwards in the western twilight, setting about 5 minutes later each night. On May 17th, a very slender crescent moon will appear near Mercury low in the West Northwest about 8:45 p.m. Two nights later, the crescent moon will appear just to the right of Venus. On May 20th, the moon will be nearly in line and to the left of Pollux and Castor of Gemini.

SIGHTS FOR LATE MAY '07- On May 22nd, the evening moon appears close to the planet Saturn. On the next evening, the moon appears half full and at its best for viewing it's craters with binoculars. On May 27th, the evening moon appears near the star Spica of Virgo. On May 31st, we have our second full moon of the month. This second full moon of a month is called a 'blue moon'. Blue moons occur on the average about once every 3 years. To have a blue moon, the month must have a very early full moon and then end with a full moon.

Astronomy Activities
Our free public May Planetarium presentation is "Getting Ready for Summer Sky Gazing", shown on May 6th, 13th and 27th at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. There will public tours of the Cavallaro Collection at the Exploratorium in the Compton Science Center at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. following the Planetarium shows. The Planetarium is in Tawes 302, near the middle of the Frostburg State campus.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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