Here’s a quick look at what’s going on in the sky during the month of May, 2013:
May 2 — Last Quarter Moon, 7:14 a.m. One-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing.
May 6 — Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower. 2013 is expected to be a favorable year for this weak shower. Viewing will be better in the Southern U.S.
May 9 — New Moon, 8:28 p.m. The Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight.
May 9 — Annular Eclipse of the Sun. On this occasion, the long umbral shadow cone of the Moon is too short to reach the Earth. In angular size, the Moon’s disk will appear about 4 1/2 percent smaller than the disk of the Sun, so the effect will be like placing a penny atop a nickel; a ring of sunlight will remain visible surrounding the Moon. The shadow path where the ring can be seen runs for thousands of miles, but will get no wider than 107 miles at greatest eclipse. Much of the path falls over the Pacific Ocean, but at or soon after local sunrise, the eclipse will slice across northern Australia, the extreme eastern tip of Papua New Guinea, and some of the nearby Solomon Islands. At the point of greatest eclipse, the ring phase will last 6 minutes 4 seconds. Partial Eclipse Begins: 5:25 p.m. – Annular Eclipse Begins: 6:30 p.m. – Greatest Eclipse: 8:25 p.m. – Annular Eclipse Ends: 10:20 p.m. – Partial Eclipse Ends: 11:25 p.m.
May 13 — Moon at apogee (its farthest point to the Earth), 10 a.m.
May 18 — First Quarter Moon, 12:34 a.m. One-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing.
May 23-29 – Dance of the Planets. During this period, three bright planets – Venus, Jupiter and Mercury – will gather closely together low above the west-northwest horizon, about 45 minutes after sunset. Such an unusual configuration is called a “trio.” The three planets will fit within a 5° circle–small enough to fit inside the bowl of the Big Dipper–during this time. They will appear closest together on May 27, when they’re separated by less than 2 1/2 degrees.
May 25 — Full Moon, 12:25 a.m. The visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days. May’s full Moon with be a “supermoon,” meaning it coincides with the Moon’s perigee, or closest point to the Earth, making it larger in appearance and causing exceptionally high tides.
May 25 — Moon at perigee (its closest point to the Earth), 10 p.m.
May 25 — Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon. Virtually a nonevent; the Moon’s lower limb barely grazes the Earth’s faint penumbral shadow. Although much of North America will be turned toward the Moon during the eclipse, there will be absolutely no trace of any perceptible darkening. Moon Enters Penumbra: 11:44 p.m. – Middle of Eclipse: 12:10 a.m. Moon Leaves Penumbra: 12:36 a.m.
May 31 — Last Quarter Moon, 2:58 p.m. One-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing.