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Astronomical events of interest for May 2014

Unique alignment of Jupiter, Moon and stars
Unique alignment of Jupiter, Moon and stars
D. Tondreau

Here is a quick look at what’s happening astronomically in May 2014. Mark your calendars.

Moon:

First Quarter Moon: May 6 (South at sunset)

Full Moon: May 14 (East at sunset, May 15 west at sunrise)

Last Quarter Moon: May 21 (South at sunrise)

New Moon: May 28 (No moon visible)

Planets Visible:

Evening: Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars

Morning: Venus (east)

Sun:

May 14: The Sun enters the astronomical constellation Taurus

May 20: The Sun enters the astrological sign Gemini

Earth:

May 1: May Day or Beltane (an ancient Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland and Scotland) is celebrated through out the world as the beginning of summer. May 1 is a cross-quarter day. Cross-quarter days are half-way between the beginning and end of each season. For thousands of years, cross-quarter days were and still are used to signal the unofficial beginning of the seasons. In the US Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer.

Meteors:

  • May 6: Eta Aquarids peak.
  • May 24: Possible meteor shower associated with Comet 209P/LINEAR

Special Events:

  • May 3: Chamberlin Observatory Open House weather permitting. The observatory’s 20” telescope and telescopes belonging to members of the Denver Astronomical Society will be available for viewing. Click here for more information.
  • May 3: Early evening looking west, the Moon is below Jupiter. Below the Moon is the bright Betelgeuse (beetle juice) in Orion. Above Jupiter are the stars Pollux (left), and Castor (right) the Gemini twins.
  • May 4: Early evening looking west, the Moon is between Jupiter (right) and Procyon (left) in Canis Minor
  • May 10: Early evening looking south, the Moon is below and right of Mars
  • May 11: Early evening looking south, the Moon is between Mars (upper right) and Spica (lower left) in the constellation Virgo.
  • May 12: Early evening looking southeast, the Moon is between Spica (upper right) and Saturn (lower left).
  • May 13: Early evening looking southeast, the Moon is just above and right of Saturn.
  • May 14: Early evening looking east, the Moon is below and left of Saturn.
  • May 25: Early morning looking east before sunrise: A thin Crescent Moon will be close to Venus.

Historical Trivia:

  • May 24, 1960: First Canadian spaceflight, a Black Brant 1 rocket goes to an altitude of 171 kilometers
  • May 26, 1969: Human speed record of 24,790 mph set by the crew of Apollo 10

Wishing you clear skies