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Post Info TOPIC: May 2008


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On May 9th, asteroid 7 Iris will be near to the Sombrero Galaxy (M104) in the Constellation Virgo.

iris-2008-5-9-23h30m
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21:30 UT, 9th May

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Mercury and a thin crescent Moon will be observable in the evening sky on May 6th.

merMoonMay6
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21:01 UT, 6th May

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PLANETmAY08

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PLANETdiamay08

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Highlights

The celtic festival of Beltane on May 1st.

The Summer Triangle -- Vega, Deneb, and Altair -- holds the central position, high in the south. The scorpion sits low to the south and slightly west. Directly to the arachnid's east is Sagittarius, the Archer, and between the two lies the direction toward the Milky Way galaxy's centre. The ribbon of soft light that delineates our galaxy flows up from the south, through the Triangle, and then cascades toward the northern horizon.

Notable Messier objects

M13 in the constellation Hercules, is one of the largest of over 100 globular clusters in our Galaxy. Located about 25,000 light-years away, it contains about half a million stars packed into a space only a few tens of light years in diameter. Globular clusters contain some of the oldest stars in the Universe.
M56Also in the constellation of Lyra we find our first globular cluster of the night. In a telescope look for a small round ball of light, slightly brighter in the centre. This is a difficult binocular object appearing as a small fuzzy patch.
M27Also known as the Dumbbell nebula, the largest planetary nebula in the Messier Catalogue, M27 lies in the constellation Vulpecula. Fairly easy to see in binoculars as a small hazy patch. In small to medium scopes it appears as a rectangular patch of light. In large scopes it may even appear round in shape with a bright rectangular, or dumbbell shaped core.



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May has only one major meteor shower.
The Eta Aquarids (ETA) are the debris trail from Halley's Comet, which last passed through the inner solar system in 1986. The comet has an orbital period of about 76 years, and on May 5th we pass closest to Halley's orbit. At their peak the Eta Aquarids may produce up to 30 meteors per hour, from a radiant located at 22:12 (333) -04. This area of the sky is located in northern Aquarius, four degrees south of the third magnitude star Sadalmelik (Alpha Aquarii). The best time to view this activity is just before the start of morning twilight, when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. However, from far Northern latitudes the the radiant is situated very low in the sky. With an entry velocity of 66 kilometres per second, a majority of these meteors will appear to move swiftly and produce a high percentage of persistent trains. You can listen to them by tuning to the 67 MHz meteor radar in Roswell, NM.

Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity ZHR
Date R.A. Dec. km/s
Eta Aquarids April 21-May 12 May 5 338
-01 66 40- 85
Epsilon Aquilids May 4-27 May17/18 284.1 +15.5 30 5
May Librids May 1-9 May 6/7 229 -16 18
Eta Lyrids May 3-12 May 8-10 292 +40
N. May Ophiuchids April 8-June 16 May 18/19 253 -15 20 2-3
S. May Ophiuchids April 21-June 4 May 13-18 252 -23 40 5


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Starting with the natural events in our sky, May has the second of the two "really good" meteor showers of the year, with the best-coinciding Moon phase to look for meteors. The Moon is "new," or dark during the shower, which means there is no moonlight to compete with the streaking lights. However, staying away from city lights will make for even better seeing conditions.
The Eta Aquarids will peak at 8 a.m. May 5. The radiant of the shower rises in the constellation Aquarius almost directly due east by 2:30 a.m. on May 5, so between then and sunrise is the most ideal viewing time. The Eta Aquarids are leftover bits of Comet Halley making contact with our atmosphere. Often characterized as "dirty snowballs," comets are essentially loosely packed material that "shed" as they travel through space, especially as they get warmed by the sun. This debris is often pieces no larger than pebbles or dust.

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