mei 24, 2022

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Planeten schemering en zonsopgang, maansverduistering en coma sterrenhoop

Planeten schemering en zonsopgang, maansverduistering en coma sterrenhoop

Wat is er voor mei? Planeten schemering en zonsopgang, maansverduistering en coma sterrenhoop.

Luchtkaart Mercurius verschijnt op 2 mei laag aan de westelijke hemel, vergezeld van een halve maan en een heldere ster Aldebaran. Krediet: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Het kan beginnen en eindigen met twee geweldige kansen om de planeet te ontdekken. Kijk op 2 mei ongeveer 45 minuten na zonsondergang naar het westen om Mercurius te vinden op ongeveer 10 graden van de horizon, vergezeld van een dunne halve maan. Net ten zuiden van de maan bevindt zich de heldere rode reuzenster Aldebaran, die ongeveer dezelfde helderheid zou moeten hebben als Mercurius. (En trouwens, dit is de enige kans om in de vroege avond tot augustus een planeet met het blote oog te spotten.)

Jupiter en Mars zullen heel dichtbij verschijnen

Luchtkaart die laat zien hoe Jupiter en Mars op 28-30 mei heel dichtbij aan de ochtendhemel verschijnen. Krediet: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Dan kun je in de laatste week van mei elke ochtend kijken als[{” attribute=””>Jupiter and Mars get increasingly close in the predawn sky. Their morning meetup culminates in a close conjunction that you can watch on the 28th through the 30th, where they’ll be separated by barely the width of the full moon. Should look incredible with binoculars, where you can also see Jupiter’s largest moons.

Skywatchers in the Western Hemisphere can look forward to a total lunar eclipse in mid-May. The event will be visible across the Americas, Europe, and Africa – basically anywhere the Moon is above the horizon at the time.

Eclipse Visibility Map May 2022 Total Lunar Eclipse

Eclipse visibility map for the May 15-16, 2022 total lunar eclipse. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The visible part of the eclipse begins about 10:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on May 15th, with totality starting an hour later and lasting for about an hour and a half. Those in the Eastern U.S. will see the eclipse start with the Moon well above the horizon. For the Central U.S., the eclipse starts about an hour and a half after dark, with the Moon relatively low in the sky. On the West coast of the U.S., the Moon rises with totality beginning or already underway, so you’ll want to find a clear view toward the southeast if viewing from there.

Now, lunar eclipses are the ones that are safe to look at directly with your eyes, binoculars, or a telescope (unlike solar eclipses).

The Moon takes on a dim, reddish hue during the period of totality. Even though the Moon is fully immersed in Earth’s shadow at that time, red wavelengths of sunlight filter through Earth’s atmosphere and fall onto the Moon’s surface. One way to think of this is that a total lunar eclipse shows us a projection of all the sunrises and sunsets happening on the planet at that moment.

So check your local details for this eclipse, and find lots more eclipse info from NASA at this link

Finally in May, a really nice target for binoculars: the Coma star cluster. This loose, open star cluster displays 40 or 50 stars spread over a region of sky about three finger-widths wide. The brightest stars in the cluster form a distinctive Y shape, as seen here.

Coma Star Cluster in May

Sky chart showing where to find the Coma star cluster in May. The cluster is about 6° wide, and is located about 15° east of the hindquarters of Leo, the lion constellation, which is found high overhead in the south. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Coma star cluster is located about 300 light-years away, making it the second-closest open cluster to Earth after the Hyades cluster in Taurus.

To find the Coma star cluster, look southward for the constellation Leo. It can be easiest to start from the Big Dipper, toward the north, and use the two “pointer stars” on the end which always point you toward Leo. Once you’ve identified Leo, the Coma star cluster is about 15 degrees to the east of the triangle of stars representing the lion’s hindquarters. It’s relatively easy to find with binoculars, even under light-polluted urban skies – as long as it’s clear out.

So here’s wishing you clear skies for finding the Coma star cluster and any other wonders you discover in the night sky in May.

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