Southern Colorado Skies / May 7 – 13, 2017

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available; an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at


I posted the following photos on the SCAS Facebook page the other day so sorry for the rerun if you’ve already seen them, but I think they’re cool and would like to make sure I share them with everyone.

This feature is known as the Straight Wall in Mare Nubium. It is about 120 km in length and was formed by a fault in the Moon’s surface. Its height is only about 250-300 meters so actually what you see is mainly its shadow. That’s why it should be observed during the “morning” on the Moon (when the terminator has passed to the west beyond it) which provides maximum contrast. Give it a try! It’s visible even in small scopes.

Some say that they see a sword in the overall view of the straight wall, with the wall forming the ‘blade’ and some low hills beneath it forming the handle.


As I pointed out last week, we are not quite to summer by the calendar but you can get a teaser by looking in the evening sky for what’s been called the summer triangle. Bright in the northeast as evening begins is the brightest of the three stars, blue-white Vega in the constellation Lyra. About an hour later look for Deneb, the “tail” in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan). Finally, Altair (in the constellation Aquila, the Eagle) rises far to the other two stars’ lower right (east) near midnight.

Wednesday (May 10)

Full Moon at 3:42 p.m. MDT.

Thursday (May 11)

Look for the shadows of two of Jupiter’s moons (Io and Europa) on opposite sides of Jupiter’s visible surface from 7:59 to 8:05 p.m. MDT.




Mercury (in Pisces):

Mercury is lost in the Sun’s glare.

Venus (in Pisces):

Look for Venus low in the eastern horizon at dawn. This week Venus appears in a thick crescent shape. (Watch out for the Sun if you decide to view it with a telescope!)

Mars (in Taurus):

Look for a faint orange “star” sinking low in the west during late twilight, far to the lower left of dazzling Capella.

Jupiter (in Virgo):

Jupiter is at its best for viewing about 9 or 10 p.m. That bright star to the lower left by about 10 degrees (about the width of your fist at arm’s length) is Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.






Saturn (in Sagittarius):

Saturn rises about 10:30 p.m. but you can also spot it in the south during the early morning hours, to the upper right of the Sagittarius “teapot.” Reddish Antares is about 18 degrees to Saturn’s right (a little less than the width of your fist with your thumb extended).

Uranus (in Pisces):

Lost in the glare of the sunrise.

Neptune (in Aquarius):

Too low in the dawn’s light to be seen.


The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your location in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Iridium flares, check out my article at:

Sunday (May 7) 10:51:03 p.m. / Magnitude -5.9 / NE / Elevation 10 degrees

Monday (May 8) 03:14:16 a.m. / Magnitude -1.4 / ESE / Elevation 17 degrees

Monday (May 8) 09:39:32 p.m. / Magnitude -1.1 / ENE / Elevation 49 degrees

Tuesday (May 9) 03:17:39 a.m. / Magnitude -3.3 / SE / Elevation 22 degrees

Tuesday (May 9) 09:33:31 p.m. / Magnitude -1.3 / ENE / Elevation 51 degrees

Wednesday (May 10) 03:11:20 a.m. / Magnitude -1.7 / SE / Elevation 19 degrees

Wednesday (May 10) 05:38:21 a.m. / Magnitude -6.1 / NNE / Elevation 24 degrees

Wednesday (May 10) 09:27:28 p.m. / Magnitude -3.3 / E / Elevation 50 degrees

Thursday (May 11) 05:32:25 a.m. / Magnitude -5.7 / NNE / Elevation 22 degrees

Thursday (May 11) 09:21:25 p.m. / Magnitude -1.0 / E / Elevation 51 degrees

Thursday (May 11) 10:46:20 p.m. / Magnitude -4.8 / NE / Elevation 17 degrees

Thursday (May 11) 10:48:37 p.m. / Magnitude -2.0 / NE / Elevation 22 degrees

Friday (May 12) 03:08:36 a.m. / Magnitude -2.3 / SE / Elevation 25 degrees


These are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet.

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry

Pueblo West, Colorado

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