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Post Info TOPIC: May 2011


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RE: May 2011
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The Moon is 9 from bright star Pollux



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Mercury will pass 1.5 degrees from Venus on the 7th May.

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Mercury in the morning sky, is at its Greatest Elongation (26.6 West, magnitude 0.5) at 20:05 BST, 7th May.



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The Moon is 7 from the bright star Aldebaran on the 5th May, 2011.



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The New Moon is at 06:50.7 UTC, 3rd May, 2011.



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In a rare planetary conjunction, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter will appear very close to each other offering a visual treat to skygrazers this month. The conjunction can be seen on early morning eastern sky through naked eyes and across the country from May 7 to 25
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Mars is in conjunction with Jupiter (only 21.7' separated) at 5:26 GMT, 1st May, 2011.
Distance to earth: 2.323 AU



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Mercury: at magnitude 0.9, starts the month in the constellation of Pisces. Mercury is at its Greatest Elongation (26.6 West, in the mornings, brightness: 0.5 mag) at 20.05 BST, 7th May. Mercury is in conjunction with Venus, 1.5 separated, at 16:44 BST, 9th May. Mercury is in conjunction in Right Ascension with Jupiter, 2.2 separated, at 23:46 BST, 10th May. Mercury is close to Venus, 1.4 separated, at 7:46 BST, 18th May. Mercury is at Dichotomy/Half phase at 15:35 BST, 12th May.
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Venus: is a morning star of magnitude -3.9, The planet is in constellation Pisces at the start of the month. It is best seen from 5.0h -17.7h. Venus is in conjunction in Right Ascension with Jupiter, 36.7' separated, at 10:15 BST, 11th May. Venus is close to Mars, 59.6' separated, at 10:25 BST, 23rd May.
(On May 1st, RA= 0h46m32s Dec= +311.7' (J2000) Distance=1.434AU Elongation= 28 Phase k=87% Diameter=11.6")


Earth: -

The Moon:The New Moon is on the 3rd. Lunar Apogee is at 11:02.1 BST, 27th May. Lunar Perigee is at 12:31.8 BST, 15th May. The First Quarter Moon is at 21:32.9 BST, 10th May. The Full Moon (diameter: 32.724', declination: -21.64) is at 12:08.6 GMT, 17th May, (This is the second most southerly full moon of the year). Last Quarter Moon is at 19:52.2 BST, 24th May.

Mars: at magnitude 1.2 starts the month in the constellation Pisces. Mars is in conjunction with Jupiter (21.7' separated) on the 1st May.
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Jupiter: is in the constellation Pisces. A magnitude -2.1, the planet is best seen from 4.6h - 4.6h. The Moon is close to Jupiter, Separation=6.0, on the 29th May.
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On May 10th, RA= 1h31m32s Dec= +823.8' (J2000) Distance=5.848AU Elongation= 25 Diameter=33.7")

Saturn: at magnitude 0.5 sits in the constellation Virgo. The planet is best seen from 21.2h - 5.0h. The planet is the brightest object in the constellation and worth a look through binoculars this month.
(On May 1st, RA=12h47m14s Dec= -207.8' (J2000) Distance=8.730AU Elongation=151 Diameter=19.0")


Uranus is in the constellation Pisces. Uranus at magnitude 5.9, has a bluish-green hue and appears 3.7 arcseconds wide.
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Neptune: is in the constellation Aquarius.

Pluto is in the constellation Sagittarius (mag 14.0). Normally, a finder chart is necessary to help in identifying the 0.1" diameter dwarf planet. The dwarf planet is best seen from 23.6h - 2.7h.
(On May 1st, RA=18h30m23s Dec=-1843.4' (J2000) Distance=31.450AU Elongation=124 Diameter=0.1")

The Sun enters the zodiac sign Gemini at 10:21 BST, 21st May.



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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.

ShowerActivity PeriodMaximumRadiantVelocityZHR
DateR.A.Dec.km/s
Eta AquaridsApril 21-May 12May 5338-016640- 85
Epsilon AquilidsMay 4-27May17/18284.1+15.5305
May LibridsMay 1-9May 6/7229-1618
Eta LyridsMay 3-12May 8-10292+40
N. May OphiuchidsApril 8-June 16May 18/19253-15202-3
S. May OphiuchidsApril 21-June 4May 13-18252-23405


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The celtic festival of Beltane is on May 1st.

North American Nebula
this is an enormous and vivid cloud of gas and dust which has striking resemblance to North America. Due to its large size (four degrees across, eight times the angular size of the Moon), the nebula ("NGC7000") must be viewed with low power instruments such as richest field telescopes or binoculars. Located in Cygnus the Swan, it rises in the east in the early evening on this date and becomes an easy object by 11:00 PM. For a relatively faint patch such as this a dark moonless sky is going to be necessary. First look for it with the naked eye. If you can't find it that way, try sweeping across the area with your binoculars.
Behind the nebula lies the part of the Milky Way. Photographs will show a million dancing fiery lights all splashed wildly across the ebony sky.
Deneb is thought to be the illuminating star, at about 70 light years away. The cloud is itself about 45 light years across.

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.

Bootes, the Herdsman
As May heads into June, the precession of Greek character continues across the evening skies. This evening you will likely see Bootes, the Herdsman, rising high in the heavens.
Bootes is believed to have been Arcas the illicit son of Zeus and Callisto, the daughter of Arcadia. Callisto was the favourite hunting partner of the goddess of hunting, Artemis. Zeus wanted Callisto and succeeded by assuming the appearance of Artemis one day. When it became clear to the real Artemis what had happened, she banished her friend from her company.
After Callisto gave birth to her son, Arcas, the wife of Zeus became angry at her husband's indiscretions. Cursing her, she changed her rival into a bear and condemned her to wander the forest for years to come. Years later Arcas himself became an accomplished hunter and stumbled across this bear in the woods. At that point, Zeus stepped in and sent the both of them into the heavens where Callisto was turned into Ursa Major and her son Arcas, Bootes.
In another legend Bootes was identified as Icarus, the inventor of wine. One day he gave some wine to a few clueless shepherds. Mistaking their drunken state for being poisoned they, killed him. Maera, his dog ran home and returned with Erigone, the daughter of Icarius who upon seeing her dead father committed suicide along with the dog. Taking pity on them, Zeus immortalized them in the heavens for all eternity. Maera became Canis Minor, Erigone is now seen as Virgo, and Icarius of course is Bootes.
The constellation is best known for housing Arcturus, the fourth brightest star in the sky .

Coma Berenices
Rising in the eastern skies about mid-evening is the faint constellation, Coma Berenices, "Berenices' Hair". Undistinguished as it seems, this constellation has one significant feather in its cap : this is where the North Galactic Pole (NGP) is located in between stars Beta and Gamma. The galaxy like everything else in the Universe rotates around on an axis. Where the Earth spins every 24 hours, our galaxy takes about 20 million years for each rotation and the NGP is where the North Pole of the galaxy is aimed. The southern Galactic Pole is located in Sculptor. Since you are looking away from the galaxy you will see fewer bright stars than toward the body the Milky Way. But now you have a clear shot into extra galactic space revealing all many more galaxies which would otherwise be hidden by our own.
While Coma Berenices is one of the more modern constellations (being created in 1551), the grouping was mentioned on occasion by the ancients. Frequently referred to both as the "hair" of either Ariadne or Queen Berenice of Egypt. Unlike most constellations this is one of the few that refers to a real person.
Berenice married her brother, Ptolemy III (as was Egyptian royal tradition) in the third century BC. A few days after her marriage Ptolemy went off to war. She promised him that if he were to return safely she would cut off her hair. He did, and so she did, placing it in the temple as a gift to the gods. The next day her hair mysteriously was gone, gone to the stars according to the court mathematician.
While dim in stars, Coma Berenices is a very fertile playground for astronomers, containing about half of the famous Coma-Virgo galactic cluster. So it has many fine galaxies well within the grasp of amateur telescopes.

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.
M56 Also 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.
M27 Also 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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