The conjunctions, appulses, and meteor shower saga continues this May! Avid stargazers are in for late-night observations this month since most of these sky treats don’t show up until the small hours of the night.
Check out below this month’s sky events. All dates and times were given in UAE Local Time (UTC+4).
1. Appulse of the Moon and Saturn
The Moon in its Last Quarter phase will skirt close to Saturn in the early morning sky, with the Moon passing 4°09’ to the south of Saturn.
2. Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter
A couple of days ago, it was the Saturn and Moon pairing up in the night sky. On this day, it’s the gas giant Jupiter’s turn to get close to the Moon. This time it’s not an appulse, but a conjunction. But how do the two differ?
In astronomy, a conjunction is the alignment of two bodies in the solar system where they appear to have the same right ascension as seen from Earth. An appulse, meanwhile, is a close approach of two heavenly bodies.
3. Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower
Another meteor shower coming our way—May presents the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Eta Aquarids are notorious for their speed; they are produced by dust particles and left-over debris left behind by comet 1P/Halley as the Earth passes the comet’s orbital plane. But akin to the Lyrids experience in April, don’t expect too much. This year’s spectacle will also call for more patience, as the Moon will glare much of the sky for the majority of the night.
4. Appulse of the Moon and Mars
Look up! The Waxing Crescent Moon and Mars shall appear close to each other (appulse), with the Moon passing 1°28’ to the north of Mars.
5. Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation
Greatest elongations are the best time when you can observe celestial objects like Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. On this day, Mercury will be shining brightly at mag 0.3.
6. Conjunction of Moon and Saturn
The Moon-Saturn pairing opened May with an appulse. Now it’s closing with a conjunction. While two phenomena may appear the same, conjunction is the alignment of two bodies in the solar system where they appear to have the same longitude as seen from Earth. An appulse, meanwhile, is a close approach of two heavenly bodies.