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.
Mammatus clouds are pouch-like protrusions hanging from the undersides of clouds, usually thunderstorm anvil clouds but other types of clouds as well. Contrary to myth, they don’t continue extending downward to form tornados. We received several photos of dramatic mammatus clouds this week. The first and last one on the post inside both were snapped in northern Texas on May 20, 2013, the same day the tornado struck in Moore, near Oklahoma City. These clouds can appear ominous. But, in a way that’s so common in nature, their dangerous aspect goes hand in hand with a magnificent beauty.
Magnetars – the dense remains of dead stars that erupt sporadically with bursts of high-energy radiation – are some of the most extreme objects known in the Universe
NASA released a new image of the famous Ring Nebula this morning (May 23, 2013). This object – aka (M57), located some 2,000 light-years away in the direction of our constellation Lyra the Harp – is beloved by amateur astronomers. They love it because they’re able to pick it out and gaze at it through small telescopes, in which it appears as a pale white smoke ring in space. But now we know more about what the Ring Nebula really looks like.
This new picture celebrates an important anniversary for the Very Large Telescope – it is fifteen years since the first light on the first of its four Unit Telescopes, on 25 May 1998.
Be sure to catch a trio of planets – Mercury, Venus and Jupiter – in the deepening western twilight during the final week of May, 2013. The sky chart above is for tonight (May 23). And notice that these objects are low in the sky: the planets will follow the sun beneath the horizon around nightfall. So go outside early to look for them. Find an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset. All three planets will appear near the sunset point on the horizon at dusk.
A massive and rare merging of two galaxies has been spotted in images taken by the Herschel space observatory.
The sun produced an M5-class flare earlier today (May 22, 2013), which peaked at peaked at 1332 UTC (8:32 CDT). In the image below – from NASA SOHO, you can see the beautiful coronal mass ejection produced in the flare. The CME was not Earth-directed but could deliver a glancing blow in the next few days.
A team of paleontologists have described a new dinosaur, the smallest plant-eating dinosaur species known from Canada.