Southern Colorado Skies / May 13-19, 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

Venus will appear by M35, and in the course of the week the crescent Moon will have traveled past Gemini and M44 (the Beehive Cluster).

Sunday (May 13)

Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, will cross in front of the gas giant from 6:53 to 8:07 p.m. MDT. It will be easier to see its shadow, which will cross from 7:07 to 8:52 p.m.

Tuesday (May 15)

New Moon at 5:48 a.m. MDT.

Thursday, May 17

As shown in the above graphic, look for the thin crescent Moon to the left (east) of Venus in the west as the Sun sets.

Friday, May 18

Try your binoculars to spot M35 tonight just after dark. Look for Venus slightly above the west-northwest horizon – to its upper left in the same field-of-view you should see faint M35, a n open star cluster located about 2800 light-years away (see above graphic).

Saturday, May 19

Since you got your binoculars out last night, try them again tonight to look for the Beehive Cluster, M44, above the crescent Moon about 6 degrees (that’s close to the field-of-view of typical binoculars). See the above graphic.

DAYLIGHT

 

PLANETS

Mercury (in Pisces / Aries)

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 decide to 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 (in Sagittarius / Capricornus)

Mars rises about 1 a.m. and is in good viewing position well before dawn. Look for Mars to the lower left (east) of Saturn.

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 appears in the southeast during twilight and dominates the sky (except for Venus) for the rest of the night. It was at opposition last week (May 8th) but is still 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.

Saturn (in Sagittarius)

Look for Saturn above the Sagittarius “teapot.” The ringed planet will rise a couple hours after dark, and will be at its highest elevation in the south just before dawn.

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/.

Tuesday (May 15) 3:30:37 a.m. / Magnitude -2.0 / W / Elevation 41 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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