Sky Notes - May 2019

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn
  • Ceres: at opposition
  • Meteors: Aquarids
  • May 2019 Sky Charts

Staying at the Whitby Youth Hostel, this year’s outward bounds party from Ayresome Primary school in Middlesbrough once again brought fine weather with them, even though the forecast originally had been for light or low cloud for much of the week. 

This turned out to be somewhat off the mark, with our preferred evening (Wednesday 10th) being clear and still.  Actually some cloud did come in off the sea, but not enough to really hamper our observations. [Read more about Ayresome Primary School visit - Whitby Youth Hostel]

Chief star in Hydra - the traditional name Alphard is from the Arabic (al-fard), "The Solitary One", no doubt because there are no other bright stars in Alphard’s immediate vicinity.  The European astronomer Tycho Brahe dubbed it Cor Hydrae, Latin for 'the heart of Hydra'.  At magnitude +1.8 Alphard is a ‘bright’ second magnitude star and lies approximately 177 light years away. [Read more about Crossing the Line: objects of the month]

Observatory Work

We are currently awaiting news from the college regarding the estimate submitted for the proposed work on the observatory, plus any subsequent developments on their part.  However some preparations will commence at the next bank holiday (May Day weekend).

A proposal has been made to utilise the Sunday evening observing slot (now in abeyance until after the summer period) to carry out preparatory and remedial work within the observatory.  This will be discussed at the final monthly meeting for this season in May. [Read more about Observatory Work]

Star Party season

If the Moon had been at a better phase, (ie. pre Full Moon), we could have almost started the outdoor star party season at Easter, with the weather being as good as it was.  But it was rising just a little too late, and with no planets visible – (Mars being well passed its best) the spring sky is not ideally suited to the passing public... [Read more about Star Party season]