Southern Colorado Skies / May 6-12, 2018

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

THIS WEEK 

A nice object on the Moon to observe with a small telescope is the Alpine Valley, a sharp-walled gash in the Alpes Mountains. You can find the Alpine Valley (see photo) on the northern part of the Moon – near first or last quarter would be best as the shadows at those times would provide good contrast of the light.

This type of formation is called a graben, a down-faulted block of crust. The valley is 190 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide. Its base is covered with lava and there is a narrow channel down the middle of the base; a 6- to 8-inch scope is recommended to observe the channel under excellent seeing conditions.

Monday (May 7)

Last-quarter Moon at 8:09 p.m. MDT.

Tuesday (May 8)

Jupiter is at opposition tonight (as close as it gets to us during this apparition). It’s now the biggest and brightest it will be all year.

DAYLIGHT

 

PLANETS

Mercury (in Pisces)

Hidden in the Sun’s glare this week, but it may be visible with binoculars about 20 minutes before sunrise low on the eastern horizon. If you have a look, be careful of the rising Sun!

Venus (in Taurus)

Look for Venus above the west-northwestern horizon shortly after sunset. It’s now almost as high as it will be until the end of summer.

Mars and Saturn (both in Sagittarius)

Both planets rise shortly after midnight and are in good viewing position well before dawn: Mars is to the left (east) of the “teapot” in Sagittarius, and Saturn is above the “teapot.”

Mars is fairly bright now, but it will be getting brighter over the next few months as it gets to opposition (on a line extending outward from the Sun through the Earth) in late July. At that time Mars will be brighter than at any time since 2003, and almost twice as bright as Jupiter. See my article in the May Southern Colorado Skies, a link to which is included with this e-mail.

Jupiter (in Libra)

Jupiter rises in the east-southeast during twilight and dominates the sky for the rest of the night (except for Venus in the early evening). It will be at opposition (on the same side of the Sun as the Earth, and in line with the Sun and Earth) on Tuesday, May 8th, and is now about as bright and big as it will be all year. The best views through a telescope or binoculars will be between midnight and 1 a.m.

Uranus (in Pisces) and Neptune (in Aquarius)

Both planets are now lost in the glare of the Sun.

BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES

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 short article at: http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/02/25/iridium-flares/.

Monday (May 7) 8:29:12 p.m. / Magnitude -1.0 / NNW / Elevation 29 degrees

Wednesday (May 8) 3:58:07 a.m. / Magnitude -2.7 / W / Elevation 46 degrees

Thursday (May 10) 3:52:00 a.m. / Magnitude -3.8 / W / Elevation 46 degrees

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

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

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry

Pueblo West, Colorado

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