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RE: May 2006
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Look low in the west soon after sunset on Saturday, May 27th, and you may be able to see a very thin crescent Moon, less than 24 hours old.
Best seen form North America.

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The celtic festival of Beltane 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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RE: May 2006
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Mercury emerges above the Sun on the 18th.

Venus at magnitude -4.1, spends most of the month in Pisces, except for the 9th to 12th when it crosses through one corner of Cetus, the Whale. The planet is high above the south-eastern horizon in the morning skies on the 1st, but during this month it will move towards the Sun and hence into the dawn skies. The waning crescent Moon is above the planet on the morning of the 24th.
Best seen from 4.5h - 4.9h.
(on May 2nd, RA=23h54m48s Dec= -1°57.6' (J2000) Distance=0.970AU Elongation= 43° Phase=66% Diameter=17.2")

The Moon is at apogee on the 7th, 7:46.3 UT ; and at perigee on the 22nd, 16:24.9 UT.
On the 14th, Emersion of 2 Sco, SAO 183896 (Multiple star system), 4.5mag PA=5.5, h=12.3 (dark limb).
On the 18th, Emersion of Terebellum, 60 Sgr, SAO 188778 (Close double star), 4.8mag PA=295.9, h=4.3 (dark limb).
First Quarter on the 5th, 6:13.0 UT
Full Moon on the 13th 7:51.1 UT
Last Quarter, on the 20th, 10:20.5 UT
New Moon on the 27th 6:25.6 UT

Mars at magnitude 1.5 moves across the constellation Gemini, the Twins, and into Cancer, the Crab on the 31st. On the 1st and 30th the crescent Moon will be near the planet. Mars will be extremely close to Saturn next month. Best seen from 21.0h - 1.5h
(on May 1st, RA= 6h45m05s Dec=+24°36.7' (J2000) Distance=1.924AU Elongation= 59° Phase=92% Diameter=4.9".)

Jupiter at magnitude -2.5, is at its brightest magnitude of the year on the 4th at 15:36 UT while in the constellation Libra, the Scales. This increase in brightness occurs due to the differences in orbital speed of the Earth and Jupiter that bring the planets closer every 13 months or so - astronomically called opposition. Because of this Jupiter is visible for the entire night, moving from the south-east during the evening to the west at dawn. With binoculars you can easily see the four main moons of Jupiter. In increasing distance from the planet these are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The Moon (unfortunately rather bright as it's nearly full) sits off to the right of Jupiter on the 11th.
Best seen from 21.1h - 4.8h
(on May 2nd, RA=14h48m21s Dec=-14°48.2' (J2000) Distance=4.414AU Elongation=178°)

Saturn at magnitude 0.3 sits above and to the left of Mars in the constellation of Cancer the Crab.
Saturn on the last few days of the month enters the starfield of M44 (Messier catalogue object 44) known as the Beehive or Praesepe open star cluster. Worth a look with binoculars from 27th onwards. The view of the month must be Saturn in the Beehive with the crescent Moon above on the 31st.
Best seen from 21.0h - 2.6h
(on May 1st, RA= 8h29m46s Dec=+19°45.9' (J2000) Distance=9.183AU Elongation= 84°)

Uranus is in the constellation Aquarius.

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May ?? - Hai Yang 1B (No. 2) CZ-2C Launch (China)
May ?? - Mitex Delta 2 Launch
May ?? - Cosmos-Don N8 Soyuz U Launch
May ?? - Agile PSLV Launch
May ?? - Lapan-Tubsat PSLV Launch
May ?? - C/NOFS Pegasus XL Launch
May 01-07 - Astronomy Week
May 02 - Asteroid 2006 HH56 Near-Earth Flyby (0.032 AU)
May 02 - May-Librids meteors (active until 10.5., Oph) 1-8 April, persistent, long trails
May 02 - Asteroid 5000 IAU Closest Approach To Earth (2.171 AU)
May 02-05 - 26th Bi-Annual European Telemetry Conference, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
May 02-06 - 2nd Scandinavian NeutrinO Workshop, Stockholm, Sweden
May 03 - Cassini, Orbital Trim Maneuver #59 (OTM-59)
May 03 - Comet P/2006 F4 (Spacewatch) Perihelion (2.339 AU)
May 03 - Asteroid 6223 Dahl Closest Approach To Earth (2.004 AU)
May 04 - Jupiter at Opposition
May 04 - Asteroid 747 Winchester Occults HIP 45268 (7.6 Magnitude Star)
May 04 - Asteroid 2006 HU50 Near-Earth Flyby (0.010 AU)
May 05 - First Quarter at 6:13.0 UT
May 05 - Astronomy Day
May 05 - Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower Peak
May 05 - Asteroid 7 Iris Occults HIP 116495 (5.8 Magnitude Star)
May 05 - Asteroid 3 Juno Occults TYC 0761-02221-1 (11.6 Magnitude Star)
May 05 - Asteroid 2404 Antarctica Closest Approach To Earth (1.753 AU)
May 05 - 45th Anniversary (1961), Freedom 7 Launch (Alan Shepard, 1st US Man in Space)
May 06 - Asteroid 784 Pickeringia Occults HIP 34439 (7.6 Magnitude Star)
May 07 - Asteroid 5035 Swift Closest Approach To Earth (1.784 AU)
May 07 - Asteroid 4148 McCartney Closest Approach To Earth (1.087 AU)
May 07-12 - Meeting: SOHO-17 - 10 Years of SOHO and Beyond, Sicily, Italy
May 08-11 - ISPRS Symposium: Remote Sensing: From Pixels to Processes, Enschede, The Netherlands
May 08-11 - Workshop: The Future of Photometric, Spectrophotometric and Polarimetric Standardization, Blankenberge, Belgium
May 08-11 - Symposium: Massive Stars - From Pop III and GRBs to the Milky Way, Baltimore, Maryland
May 08-11 - Meeting: Complex Molecules in Space - Present Status and Prospects with ALMA, Fuglsocentret, Denmark
May 08-11 - IGS Workshop 2006, Darmstadt, Germany
May 08-11 - Conference: Origin and Distribution of Life in the Universe - a Nordic Perspective, Stockholm, Sweden
May 08-12 - 1st International Conference on Impact Cratering in the Solar System, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
May 08-14 - Conference: Supernovae - One Millennium After SN 1006?, Hangzhou, China
May 09 - Asteroid 3230 Vampilov Occults HIP 115144 (6.0 Magnitude Star)
May 09 - Asteroid 4169 Celcius Closest Approach To Earth (2.921 AU)
May 10 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-Y Near-Earth Flyby (0.062 AU)
May 10 - Asteroid 2786 Grinevia Occults HIP 66015 (6.0 Magnitude Star)
May 10 - Asteroid 7336 Saunders Closest Approach To Earth (1.781 AU)
May 10-12 - Workshop: Isophot's Legacy to the Far-Infrared and to the Virtual Observatory, Budapest, Hungary
May 10-12 - 61st Annual Nederlandse Astronomenconferentie, Ameland, The Netherlands
May 11 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AP Near-Earth Flyby (0.082 AU)
May 11 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AS Near-Earth Flyby (0.085 AU)
May 11 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AV Near-Earth Flyby (0.085 AU)
May 11 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AT Near-Earth Flyby (0.089 AU)
May 11 - Asteroid 36800 Katarinawitt Closest Approach To Earth (1.261 AU)
May 11 - Theodore Von Karman's 125th Birthday (1881)
May 12 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-V Near-Earth Flyby (0.053 AU)
May 12 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AF Near-Earth Flyby (0.078 AU)
May 12 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-C Near-Earth Flyby (0.079 AU)
May 12 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AR Near-Earth Flyby (0.081 AU)
May 13 - Full Moon, 7:51.1 UT
May 13 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AM Near-Earth Flyby (0.061 AU)
May 13 - Comet P/1999 RO28 (LONEOS) Perihelion (1.228 AU)
May 13 - Asteroid 2004 BF68 Near-Earth Flyby (0.099 AU)
May 14 - Griffith Observatory Reopens
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-H Near-Earth Flyby (0.063 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-N Near-Earth Flyby (0.063 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-J Near-Earth Flyby (0.064 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-R Near-Earth Flyby (0.064 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AU Near-Earth Flyby (0.065 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-G Near-Earth Flyby (0.065 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AQ Near-Earth Flyby (0.066 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AW Near-Earth Flyby (0.067 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-B Near-Earth Flyby (0.067 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-P Near-Earth Flyby (0.067 AU)
May 14 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-Q Near-Earth Flyby (0.070 AU)
May 14 - Asteroid 1 Ceres Occults 6382-00711-1 (12.4 Magnitude Star)
May 14-19 - Seminar: Neutron Stars and Pulsars - About 40 Years After the Discovery, Bad Honnef, Germany
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AB Near-Earth Flyby (0.054 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AC Near-Earth Flyby (0.054 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AY Near-Earth Flyby (0.056 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-T Near-Earth Flyby (0.056 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AI Near-Earth Flyby (0.057 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AJ Near-Earth Flyby (0.058 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AD Near-Earth Flyby (0.059 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AK Near-Earth Flyby (0.060 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-W Near-Earth Flyby (0.060 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AL Near-Earth Flyby (0.061 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AN Near-Earth Flyby (0.061 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AE Near-Earth Flyby (0.062 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-L Near-Earth Flyby (0.062 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-K Near-Earth Flyby (0.064 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-Z Near-Earth Flyby (0.064 AU)
May 15 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-M Near-Earth Flyby (0.066 AU)
May 15 - Asteroid 5649 Donnashirley Closest Approach To Earth (2.090 AU)
May 15-16 - Microwave Technology and Techniques Workshop: Enabling Future Space Systems, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
May 15-17 - 6th SMOS Science Workshop, Lyngby, Denmark
May 15-20 - 16th Annual Plenary Meeting of ISO TC20/SC14 on Space Systems and Operations Standardization, Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 16 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AG Near-Earth Flyby (0.055 AU)
May 16 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AO Near-Earth Flyby (0.055 AU)
May 16 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-U Near-Earth Flyby (0.055 AU)
May 16 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AA Near-Earth Flyby (0.057 AU)
May 16 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-AH Near-Earth Flyby (0.060 AU)
May 16 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-X Near-Earth Flyby (0.061 AU)
May 16 - Comet P/2006 G1 (McNaught) Closest Approach To Earth (1.787 AU)
May 16 - Asteroid 2006 GY2 Near-Earth Flyby (0.017 AU)
May 16 - Asteroid 5145 Pholus Closest Approach To Earth (19.472 AU)
May 16-19 - Conference: The Nature of V838 Mon and its Light Echo, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain
May 17 - Cassini, Orbital Trim Maneuver #61 (OTM-61)
May 17 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-X Near-Earth Flyby (0.050 AU)
May 17 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-E Near-Earth Flyby (0.051 AU)
May 17 - Comet C/2005 O1 (NEAT) Perihelion (3.591 AU)
May 17 - Asteroid 3367 Alex Occults HIP 46454 (5.4 Magnitude Star)
May 17 - Asteroid 434 Hungaria Closest Approach To Earth (0.978 AU)
May 17 - Asteroid 7231 Porco Closest Approach To Earth (2.202 AU)
May 17-19 - 5th European Workshop on Thermal Protection Systems and Hot Structures, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
May 17-19 - 4th Korean Astrophysics Workshop: Origin, Propagation and Interaction of Energetic Particles, Daejeon, Korea
May 18 - GOES-N Delta 4M Launch
May 18 - Asteroid 4 Vesta Occults TYC 1926-00407-1 (11.0 Magnitude Star)
May 18-19 - Workshop: From Protostellar Disks to Planetary Systems, London, Canada
May 19 - Asteroid 27476 (2000 GS85) Occults HIP 81687 (6.3 Magnitude Star)
May 19 - Asteroid 3901 Nanjingdaxue Occults HIP 3992 (6.4 Magnitude Star)
May 20 - Moon Last Quarter, 10:20.5 UT
May 20 - Cassini, Titan Flyby
May 20 - Comet P/1999 RO28 (LONEOS) Closest Approach To Earth (2.040 AU)
May 20 - Comet C/2004 B1 (LINEAR) Closest Approach To Earth (1.345 AU)
May 20 - Asteroid 8 Flora At Opposition (9.7 Magnitude)
May 20 - Asteroid 5692 Shirao Occults HIP 110960 (3.7 Magnitude Star)
May 21-27 - 10th Pisa Meeting on Advanced Detectors, La Biodola, Isola d'Elba, Italy
May 22 - Asteroid 4769 Castalia Closest Approach To Earth (0.937 AU)
May 22 - Asteroid 2742 Gibson Closest Approach To Earth (2.077 AU)
May 22 - Asteroid 2421 Nininger Closest Approach To Earth (2.272 AU)
May 23 - Compass 2 Shtil-N Launch
May 23 - Cassini, Orbital Trim Maneuver #62 (OTM-62)
May 23 - Comet P/2006 F1 (Kowalski) Closest Approach To Earth (3.547 AU)
May 23-26 - Fenomenologia Degli AGN, Evoluzione e Processi Di Formazione Delle Galassie, Padova, Italy
May 24 - Asteroid 2004 DR8 Near-Mars Flyby (0.035 AU)
May 24 - Asteroid 5066 Garradd Closest Approach To Earth (1.079 AU)
May 24 - Asteroid 8256 Shenzhou Closest Approach To Earth (1.732 AU)
May 24-28 - International Telescope Meeting Vogelsberg, Feldatal-Stumpertenrod, Germany
May 25 - Asteroid 2003 PN5 Near-Mars Flyby (0.048 AU)
May 25 - Asteroid 24101 Cassini Closest Approach To Earth (2.476 AU)
May 25 - 5th Anniversary (2001), Galileo, Callisto 30 Flyby
May 25 - 45th Anniversary (1961), John F. Kennedy's Moon Goal Speech
May 25-27 - Conference: Actual Problems in Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
May 25-28 - Rencontres Astronomiques du Pilat (RAP), Craponne-sur-Arzon, France
May 26 - Thaicom 5/ Satmex-6/ LDREX 2 Ariane 5 Launch
May 26 - Asteroid 8084 Dallas Closest Approach To Earth (2.028 AU)
May 26-28 - 38th Annual Riverside Telescope Makers Conference (RTMC), near Big Bear City, California
May 27 - New Moon at 6:25.6 UT
May 27 - Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-S Near-Earth Flyby (0.049 AU)
May 28 - Asteroid 8036 Maehara Occults HIP 69427 (4.2 Magnitude Star)
May 28 - Asteroid 1069 Planckia Closest Approach To Earth (2.017 AU)
May 28 - 35th Anniversary (1971), Mars 3 Launch (USSR Mars Lander)
May 28-Jun 02 - Workshop: Studying Galaxy Evolution with Spitzer and Herschel, Crete, Greece
May 28-Jun 02 - International Conference: Planetary Science - Challenges and Discoveries, Blois, France
May 28-Jun 02 - MCWASP Conference: Modeling of Casting, Welding and Advanced Solidification Processes XI, Opio, France
May 29 - Asteroid 38237 Roche Closest Approach To Earth (1.004 AU)
May 29 - Asteroid 48300 Kronk Closest Approach To Earth (1.899 AU)
May 29-31 - Industry Space Days, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
May 29-Jun 01 - Workshop: Mass Loss from Stars and Stellar Clusters, Lunteren, The Netherlands
May 29-Jun 01 - 2nd International Meeting on Gravitation and Cosmology, Santa Clara, Cuba
May 30 - Asteroid 4628 Laplace Closest Approach To Earth (1.577 AU)
May 30 - 35th Anniversary (1971), Mariner 9 Launch (USA Mars Orbiter)
May 30 - 40th Anniversary (1966), Surveyor 1 Launch (USA Moon Lander)
May 30 - Eta-Aquarids meteors ZHR=36.1 Velocity=59.9km/s Radiant: RA=23.3h Dec=2.9° (J2000) (in constellation Pisces/Psc)

-- Edited by Blobrana at 20:02, 2006-05-01

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