Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 47

+30°
+40°
ARIES
PISCES
+10°
Mercury
0°
-20°
-10°
-30°
-40°
Mars
AQUARIUS
Neptune
4
CETUS
30
May 1
Fomalhaut
10 am
8 am
6 am
27
SAGITTARIUS
4 am
SCORPIUS
2 am
Midnight
10 pm
LOCAL TIME OF TRANSIT
8 pm
6 pm
4 pm
2 pm
CAPRICORNUS
Antares
May
22 - 23
Saturn
LIBRA
Spica
CORVUS
HYDRA
CANIS
MAJOR
18
2h
0h
Uranus
PEGASUS
AQUILA
OPHIUCHUS
Regulus
VIRGO
CANCER
EQUATOR
Sirius
Betelgeuse
Procyon
ORION
Rigel
-10°
-20°
-30°
-40°
The Sun and planets are positioned for mid-May; the colored arrows show the motion of each during the month. The Moon is plotted for evening
dates in the Americas when it's waxing (right side illuminated) or full, and for morning dates when it's waning (left side illuminated). " Local time of transit "
tells when (in Local Mean Time) objects cross the meridian - that is, when they appear due south and at their highest - at mid-month. Transits
occur an hour later on the 1st and an hour earlier at month's end.
3° half an hour before sunup. You'll
need binoculars to have any chance of
claiming it.
As for the Moon, it's a 28%-illuminated
waning crescent. On each of
the three subsequent mornings, it will
participate in a new and interesting
conjunction. At dawn on the 4th, it's
roughly midway between Saturn and
Mars; on the 5th, it's parked between
Mars and Mercury (slightly closer to the
former); and on the 6th, it sits above
left of Mercury. Plenty of reasons to
keep an eye on the morning sky!
SUNDAY, MAY 12
If you didn't have any luck catching
Mercury on the 3rd, you have a slightly
Dawn, May 30 - 31
1 hour before sunrise
Saturn
Moon
May 31
Moon
May 30
Fomalhaut
Looking Southeast
THURSDAY, MAY 23
The Moon has its closest stellar
encounter of the month late this
evening when it rises with Antares,
the red heart of Scorpius, the Scorpion.
How close will it get? Very close.
Depending on where you're situated,
the very nearly full Moon (99% illuminated)
might even eclipse the 1st-magnitude
star. (Turn to page 51 to read
details about the occultation.) However,
most readers will have to be satisfied
with a very close conjunction. The
worst-case scenario for observers in the
U.S. unfolds on the West Coast. By the
better chance at dawn today. Not only is
the planet noticeably brighter (magnitude
+0.3 compared with +0.8 earlier),
but it's also a touch higher. Half an
hour before sunrise, Mercury hovers 4°
above the eastern horizon. That's still
very low, and you'll have to use binoculars
to fish it out of dawn's glow. Believe
it or not, however, this is the highest
position the planet will achieve during
its current apparition.
Mercury had its greatest elongation
from the Sun on the 9th (26° west), but
owing to the shallow angle the ecliptic
makes with the dawn horizon during
spring for observers at mid-northern
latitudes, the planet reaches its greatest
altitude three days later. If you spot Mercury
this time around, you'll be making
the best of a bad situation. Of its seven
apparitions in 2024, this month's is the
least favorable. A much better opportunity
comes at dusk in early July.
time the Moon rises there, its motion
will have carried it more than 1° east of
Antares - still nice and close, though.
Once again, you'll be reaching for
binoculars to get the most out of this
event. It's not that Antares isn't bright
enough to easily shine through the
lunar glare - rather, it's because binos
will help you appreciate the star's ruddy
light contrasted with the Moon's placid,
silver-gray surface.
FRIDAY, MAY 31
We close the month as it began, with the
waning crescent Moon visiting Saturn
in the morning sky. This time, however,
the two get much closer. If you look to
the east-southeast around 3 a.m. local
daylight time, you'll catch the Moon sitting
about 1° below the Ringed Planet.
The gap between them is at its absolute
minimum just before 4 a.m. EDT.
This is the Moon's best planetary
encounter all month. And while you're
up, notice how the scene has changed
from the beginning of May. Most obvious
is that the gap between Saturn and
Mars has grown from 15° to 35° in
that span, almost entirely due to the
Red Planet's gradual eastward drift.
That drift is also the reason Mars
seems to take forever to gain altitude
and get ahead of morning twilight's
glow - something that vexes diehard
fans of the Red Planet.
¢ Consulting Editor GARY SERONIK
likes his planets served in bunches, with
a side order of Moon.
sk yand tele scope .o r g * MAY 2024
47
22h
20h
CYGNUS
HERCULES
Arcturus
LEO
14
Jupiter+10°
TAURUS
0°
18h
Vega
16h
14h
BOÖTES
12h
RIGHT ASCENSION
10h
8h
Castor
Pollux
GEMINI
May 11
6h
AURIGA
Venus
4h
+30°
DECLINATION
E
C
L
I
P
T
I
C
http://skyandtelescoper.org

Sky & Telescope - May 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky & Telescope - May 2024

Contents
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Cover1
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Cover2
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 1
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Contents
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 3
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 4
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 5
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 6
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 7
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 8
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 9
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Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - 84
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Cover3
Sky & Telescope - May 2024 - Cover4
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