A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON is the highlight for Sky-Watchers in May this year, occurring on the evening of May 15th and the early morning hours of May 16th across the USA! Meanwhile there will be plenty of planet activity in the eastern early morning skies before sunrise for us to enjoy. East coast observers will see the entire eclipse in a dark sky, while in the Mid-West, the Full Moon will rise already partially inside the Earth’s shadow.
The Moon enters the deep umbra part of Earth’s shadow at 10:27 pm EDT. The first sign of the eclipse will be a grayish creep across the Moon giving way to a reddish-orange coloring. Totality (Moon completely inside Earth’s shadow)will last from 11:29 pm to 12:53 am EDT (85 minutes long). Mid-totality is at 12:11 am EDT (May 16th). Partial phases last until 1:55 am EDT. (Remember Central time zones times are an hour earlier.)
Make plans to check out this eclipse several times during the 3 hour 25 minute total length of it to enjoy the fullness of it! We will have plenty of time to do so —– so long as skies are clear!
A decent Eta Aquariid meteor shower peaks on the morning of May 4th, looking east around 4 am. The radiant (from where meteors appear to come) remains low, so fewer meteors may be seen this year because of approaching dawn, but take a look anyway. Ten to twenty meteors, very fast moving, may be expected to be seen per hour.
Saturn rises around 3 am in early May and by 1 am at the end of the month. It is in good position to be seen easily in the southeast sky an hour before dawn. The Moon will be just below the ringed planet on May 22nd.
Mars is up by 4 am on May 1st and by 3 am on May 31st. Mars, which is brightening, will be very close to much brighter Jupiter on the morning of May 25, with the Moon passing just below the pair of planets. On May 29th Mars will be just below Jupiter around 5 am in the eastern sky. Jupiter will also appear close to Venus in early May. Venus, often called “the morning star,” is the brighter of the two planets, and is the brightest object in the sky after the Moon and Sun all month. (Jupiter is next brightest).