Wednesday, April 24, 2013

HUBBLE SAYS HELLO to ISON -&- What the night sky brings in May

IT’S HERE! – Not quite yet, but ISON, the much anticipated COMET of the CENTURY, was caught by the Hubble telescope. ISON is making its debut in the November 2013 skies. Above is the photo snagged by Hubble of ISON a mere 394 million miles from Earth. Not even near the Sun as yet (386 million miles from the Sun) it is already sporting a coma 3,100 miles across and extends 5,600 miles behind it. A more detailed assessment is planned when ISON is 700,000 miles away from the Sun near November 28th.

If you missed Spica, Saturn (and its moons), and the moon in their triangular dance, take out your iPhones and mark these dates as now I give you a brief run-down of what you will see in the May night sky;

May starts with the entire Milky Way seemingly disappearing behind the horizon.
May 6th -the Eta Aquarid meteor shower reaches its peak.
May 10th – While not visible to those in the US, Australia will have a great view of the Solar Eclipse May 24th-Mays full moon is referred to as the Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Corn Moon, and Planting Moon
May 24th – Right after sunset, Mercury (mag -0.9) passes within 1+° to the right of brighter Venus (mag -3.9) with Jupiter (mag -1.9) 4° above, all just above the WNW horizon; a clear view of the horizon will be needed and binoculars will help.
May 26th –A continuation of the 5 visible planets gives us Venus , Jupiter and Mercury forming nearly an equilateral triangle with each 2° apart on the WNW sky .
27 Mon. early evening: Tonight Venus and Jupiter are within 1° (two moon-widths) with Mercury 2° above. Venus is now in its comfortable place of Night Star hidden in the glare of the Sun last month

Dust off those telescopes as the weather now permits easy and relaxed home viewing of the wonders of the night (and early morning) sky.

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