Main astronomical events of May 2024

The last month of spring traditionally begins with the maximum of the η-Aquariid meteor shower associated with the famous Halley comet (1P/Halley). This year it falls on May 5th, and the Moon on this day will almost not interfere with observations. In our latitudes, it is quite difficult to see this shower, since its radiant rises already at the beginning of the morning astronomical twilight.

On May 6, the thin crescent of the old moon will pass close to Mercury, which three days later will be in maximum western elongation at a distance of more than 26 ° from the Sun. Unfortunately, for residents of the northern latitudes, in which Ukraine lies, this elongation will be unfavorable for observations — the smallest planet will appear low above the eastern horizon at the beginning of the morning civil twilight.

The Herculids meteor shower, which peaks in the last days of May, is associated with the short-period comet Schwassmann-Wachmann-3 (73P/Schwassmann–Wachmann). Usually, its activity increases when its “parent” comet returns to the Sun. This year, it is unlikely to show more than a dozen meteors per hour, but, as with all such young showers, surprises can be expected from it, so we recommend in the first half of the night to pay attention to the sky to the left and above Arcturus (α Boötes) — the brightest star in the northern hemisphere of the sky.

May 1

  • The Moon is in the last quarter phase

May 4

  • The Moon is 2° south of Saturn (1,2ᵐ)

May 5

  • The Moon is 1° south of Mars (1.1ᵐ)
  • The Moon is at perigee, 363,165 km from the center of the Earth
  • Maximum activity of the n-Aquariid meteor shower (up to 60 meteors per hour)

May 6

  • The Moon is 3° north of Mercury (0.7ᵐ)

May 8

  • New Moon
  • The Moon is 4° north of Jupiter (-2.0ᵐ)

May 9

  • Mercury in the greatest western elongation (26°22’)

May 13

  • The Moon is 2° south of Pollux (β Gemini, 1,2ᵐ)
  • Uranus in conjunction with the Sun

May 15

  • The Moon is in the first quarter phase

May 16

  • The Moon is 2° north of Regulus (α Leo, 1,3ᵐ)

May 17

  • The Moon is at its apogee, 404,640 km from the center of the Earth

May 18

  • Jupiter in conjunction with the Sun

May 20

  • The Moon is 4° east of Spica (α Virgo, 1.0ᵐ)

May 23

  • Full moon

May 24

  • The Moon is 1° west of Antares (α Scorpio, 1.0ᵐ)

May 30

  • The Moon is in the last quarter phase
  • Maximum activity of the Herculids meteor shower (up to 10 meteors per hour)

May 31

  • The Moon is 4° west of Saturn

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