May 5th: What’s Up Tonight! Southern Skies May 2015 Edition

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Podcaster: Alice Enevoldsen aka Alice’s AstroInfo

Alices-Astro-InfoTitle: What’s Up Tonight! Southern Skies May 2015 Edition

Organization: Alice’s AstroInfo

Link : www.alicesastroinfo.com
Heavens-Above Starcharts for anywhere, anytime, not installation required
Stellarium Free planetarium-style program for your computer or tablet
7Timer – Clear sky charts (will it be clear enough for stargazing?). Input your location, then click on “ASTRO” in the pop-up.

Description: Presented as a counterpart to Awesome Astronomy’s Northern Hemisphere monthly forecast, Alice talks about what’s visible from the Southern Hemisphere. Focused at about 33°S, this forecast should work for anywhere between 25°S and 50°S

Bio: Alice Enevoldsen currently volunteers as one of NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors. She has been working in planetariums since 1996, has a B.A. in Astronomy-Geology from Whitman College, and a Masters in Teaching from Seattle University. Her fascination with the stars led her to try her hand at astronomy research in Boston and Walla Walla, where she realized that her calling in life was actually to work in outreach and be a translator for scientists. Now she works hard to share her love of the stars and excitement about astronomy with as many people as possible.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by — no one. We still need sponsors for many days in 2015, so please consider sponsoring a day or two. Just click on the “Donate” button on the lower left side of this webpage, or contact us at signup@365daysofastronomy.org.

Transcript:

Hello, I’m Alice Enevoldsen, coming to you not-so-live from Alice’s AstroInfo with a podcast about what’s up in the May 2015 skies … over the Southern Hemisphere.

How are you today?… Glad to hear it! I hope you were able to tune in for part of the Cosmoquest #Hangoutathon last week.

Onward to Notable Sky Objects and Events in May!

This last couple weeks has been full of spacecraft events: Hubble’s 25th Anniversary, MESSENGER’s final moments before using the “lithobraking” method of orbital completion, and new photos of Pluto, higher resolution than what we have from Hubble. May 2nd gave us a near-Earth flyby by Asteroid 2015 HQ171, passing a little farther than the Moon.

Did something catch your eye and make you ask “Hey, what’s that?” when you were out stargazing? That’s why I’m here.

The evenings are planet-tastic right now. We’ll have four planets in the Western sky for most of the month, gaining a 5th in the East later in the evening or later in the month.

Mercury is, always, the hardest to spot. It’s small and dim, and as the closest planet to the Sun, is always near the Sun in our sky as well. So, you might lose it in the glow of sunset, but it is there. On May 27th, it will have a conjunction with Mars, which also basks in the last rays of the setting sun in the West all month.

In terms of planets you’ll see without looking for them, Venus is the brightest object nearing the horizon, but still a little ways up in the West, every evening this month. Higher than that, looking back towards the North a bit you’ll spot Jupiter.

Rising in the East later in the evening, or at sunset later in the month is our favorite ringed planet, Saturn.

If you’re watching early, early in the morning our winter stars are beginning to join us. Altair and Vega might catch your eye if you’re an early riser or commuting before sunrise.

I was visiting my alma mater, Whitman College, a couple weeks ago, and got to see Jupiter through some pretty murky sky conditions. We were still able to easily count the Galilean satellites and identify the cloud banding on the planet. If you have a Telescope or Binoculars, check out those planets, and, while you’re at it, draw a picture of what you see.

Your artistic ability isn’t what matters in this exercise, it’s the focused attention your brain brings to viewing something as you try to reproduce that image. This focused observation will help you notice things you otherwise wouldn’t. I prefer sketching what I see in pencil, both because it feels less of a permanent commitment to the page, and because I find that smudging the pencil is the best way to effectively capture some of what I see through the eyepiece. Nebulas are ever-so-lightly cloudy, and so are other things depending on the seeing conditions.

I recommend the drawing activity especially for students. Last week I had even 4- and 5-year-olds drawing their Moon observations. Of course those drawings weren’t incredibly accurate, but I saw them thinking about which details to try to add that they had seen.

The lineup of early Evening Constellations gains Libra, Virgo, and Coma Berenices this month, and for the first two weeks of the month the Eta Aquariids are an active meteor shower, with the best viewing just before dawn. Face Northeast, the radiant is about halfway up the sky. As always for meteor shower viewing, you will want to view as much of the sky at once as you can.

Because no sky update is complete without the Moon, here is a quick overview of the upcoming Moon Phases, dates adjusted for Sydney, Australia.

The last quarter moon is May 11th. For the week around the last quarter moon it is visible in the early morning sky.

The day of the new moon, May 18th, you won’t see the Moon at all, but a day before or after you might see a tiny sliver of a crescent Moon as the Sun rises or sets, and a few days outside of that the Moon will be up all day.

The first quarter moon, May 26th, is ideal for late afternoon and early evening observation.

The next full moon will be June 3rd. It rises around sunset, and sets around sunrise.

Well! Thanks for tuning in: I hope I gave you some things for which to keep your eyes peeled.

For those of you who haven’t listened before I’m here as a foil for Ralph and Paul with Awesome Astronomy and their monthly 365 Days of Astronomy, International Year of Light podcast about what’s up in the skies over the Northern Hemisphere.

This podcast is based at 33°S: times and dates are given for Sydney, Australia. Most information will be good anywhere from about 25°S to 50°S, though you may have to adjust the time zone. This will include major cities in Australia, New Zealand, countries in Africa south of Mozambique and Namibia, as well as the parts of South America south of Paraguay.

I’ll add some of my favorite planning links to the end of the transcript for you as usual. If you have suggestions, things that you’d like me to add to the “What’s up Tonight, Southern Skies Edition,” you can e-mail me from my website!

Once again, I’m Alice Enevoldsen. You can find me online as AlicesAstroInfo on Twitter, Facebook, and www.alicesastroinfo.com.

Bye! See you later!

Useful Links:
Heavens-Above Starcharts for anywhere, anytime, no installation required
Stellarium Free planetarium-style program for your computer or tablet
7Timer – Clear sky charts (will it be clear enough for stargazing?). Input your location, then click on “ASTRO” in the pop-up.
Monthly Sky Guides from Sydney Observatory

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by NUCLIO. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. This year we celebrate cosmic light as light is our info messenger in the universe. Join us and share your story to celebrate the International Year of Light. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!

About Alice Enevoldsen

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