Arriving in early May, Crescent Moon will make a spectacular pair with Mars and a few days later, with the large cluster of stars in the Hive.
As if that were not enough, we have a good meteor shower to decorate a night sky near you.
TV or computer can hardly compare, if the night is clear!
Before continuing, thank Clyde Diedrich, a reader of Looking Up. He sent a wonderful photo of the Full Moon that he recently took off, showing a line of geese flying right up front! He took them from a bridge over the Erie Channel between Mohawk and Herkimer. "I did not believe what I captured," Diedrich said. "I did not know the geese could fly so high."
The image reminds me of a flock of geese that I saw crossing in front of the Moon many years ago. I was looking through my telescope when this V-formation of agitated geese silhouetted passed between me and the Moon. The geese were very small compared to the Moon's view, so they had to be far away. I had no photo to prove it, like Mr. Diedrich! Has anyone else had a similar experience?
The Moon is currently a crescent in the morning, leading up to New Moon on Saturday, May 4th. For the next week, look for a lovely crescent in the western sky as the twilight of the night deepens.
On the night of May 6, once the stars leave, find a low, clear view of the western sky. The crescent moon will be just above the bright red-orange Aldebaran star (magnitude +0.9) and the V-shaped formation of non-geese, but stars forming the Hyades Star Cluster. Aldebaran is right at the left end of this "V" shape, although much closer to us than the cluster of stars.
Just above, look for the planet Mars, quite visible in magnitude +1.6 and reddish.
Notice the "glow of the earth" vaguely illuminating the darker part of the moon. This is the sunlight reflecting on Earth and reflecting again on the Moon. The view with binoculars is dazzling.
On May 10, the much thicker crescent moon will be higher, in the southwestern sky, right next to the stellar cluster of the Beehive. Must be a wonderful sight in binoculars. The hive covers about the same amount of sky as the moon.
Eta Aquaria Meteor Shower peaks on the morning of May 6. You will see the highest number of meteors after midnight. Eta Aquariid meteorites are left by particles from the famous Halley Comet, which have spread through the comet's long orbit. Every May Earth passes by the meteor swarm and pulls them in.
They appear to radiate from the constellation of Aquarius, which at the beginning of May rises around 2:30 in the morning, seen from the northern latitudes of the north. Meteors can be seen anywhere in the sky, but shower members can be traced to the radiant.
Astronomy magazine forecasts a peak of about 40 meteors per hour. This presupposes an open, clear and dark sky.
Let me know what you see!
Keep looking up!
Peter Becker is editor-in-chief of The News Eagle in Hawley, Pennsylvania. Notes are welcome at email@example.com