The modestly bright star Albireo – representing the Eye or sometimes the Beak in the constellation Cygnus the Swan – looks like a single point of light to the unaided eye. But peer at this star through the telescope, and you’ll easily discover why Albireo wins universal praise for being the finest double star for the small ‘scope. Best viewed at 30X (“30 power” or a magnification of 30), Albireo is known best for the striking contrast of color between its two stars, with the brighter star gold and the dimmer star blue.
Don’t miss out on the great planetary trio of May 2013. When three planets meet up in the same part of the sky, coming less than 5o of one another, the grouping is called a planetary trio. This month’s planetary trio is the first since May 2011 and the last until October 2015.
A typical binocular field covers about 5o of sky. If you have binoculars, take them along with you to see tonight’s planetary trio – the planets Mercury, Venus and Jupiter – in a single binocular field. If you don’t have binoculars, view the evening tableau anyway for these beautiful and brilliant planets should be visible to the unaided eye.
All three planets will be about 3o apart as evening dusk falls on May 25, 26 and 27. That’s about the width of your thumb at an arm length. Look for all three worlds to pop out into the deepening dusk around 40 to 60 minutes after sunset. With binoculars, you can spot the close-knit group of planets all the sooner in the glow of sunset.
The planetary trio has begun! That’s when three planets fit within a circle with a 5-degree, or smaller, diameter. Jupiter, Venus and Mercury meet that definition of a planetary trio from May 24-29, 2013. And they’ll be even closer – all be about 3 degrees apart – as evening dusk falls on May 25, 26 and 27. May 26 is the closest grouping of these three planets until the year 2021. If your sky is clear – and your horizon unobstructed – look for the planets in the west as soon as the sun sets on these May 2013 evenings. You’ll easily find the two brightest planets there: Venus and Jupiter. The innermost planet Mercury is fainter, but you’ll see it. Some are calling this late May 2013 event a triple conjunction, but a more fitting and descriptive name is planetary trio.
The May 24-25 full moon moon is one day away from lunar perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth for this month. By a newly coined popular definition, that makes this May full moon a supermoon. And as the line of sunsets has swept westward today, bringing night from the Far East to the Western Hemsiphere, we’ve enjoyed seeing your awesome supermoon photos. Thank you so much for posting them to the EarthSky Facebook page and Google+. We love them! Keep posting, and we’ll keep adding to the gallery as the sun sets – and the moon rises – further west.
UPDATED MAY 24, 2013 AT 1900 UTC (2 p.m. CDT). An M5-class solar flare on May 22, 2013 released a coronal mass ejection or CME. which has – as expected – now delivered a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field. The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft – used by the Space Weather Prediction Center to provide warnings of these events – detected it beginning at about 1735 UTC (12:35 p.m. CDT) today. The Space Weather Prediction Center says to look for G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm levels over the next 24 hours. The estimate is for a 55% chance of polar geomagnetic storms in response to the strike. Aurora alert at high latitudes.
May 25-25 supermoon rising over Marikina City, Philippines. Our friends around the world have been sharing their photos of this supermoon. Here are some of the best!
How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.
Even though technology has become more efficient and little stands in the way of a sustainable lifestyle, a new study shows, that even the Swiss are a long way from a 2,000 watt society.
In 2013, the May full moon presents the third full moon after the March equinox. In North America we often call this particular full moon the Flower Moon, Rose Moon or Strawberry Moon. That star by tonight’s full moon is Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. Plus the moon is one day away from lunar perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth for this month. By a newly coined popular definition, that makes this May 24-25 full moon a supermoon. And the moon will undergo an extremely minor penumbral lunar eclipse tonight.
What’s a supermoon? We confess: before a few years ago, we in astronomy had never heard that term. To the best of our knowledge, the term supermoon was coined by the astrologer Richard Nolle over 30 years ago. The term is only now coming into popular usage. Nolle has defined a supermoon as:
… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.
That’s a pretty generous definition and allows for many supermoons. The first “super” full moon – for 2013 – is tonight!