May 4th: Observing With Webb in May 2019

By on May 4, 2019 in

Podcaster: Rob Webb

Title: Observing With Webb in May 2019

Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School

Link: ; ;
follow me : @MrWebbPV

To listen to this email as a podcast, go to my Podbean page. To see a video of this information, go to my YouTube Channel

Description: May is looking to be a great month for catching up on constellations, enjoying the warm air, and checking out the Moon getting close to the planets.

Bio: Rob Webb is a physics, astronomy, and sustainability teacher at Pequea Valley High School in Pennsylvania. His passions include teaching, astronomy, astrophotography, planetariums, running, reading, and golf. A proud graduate of Dickinson College in 2005, he also obtained a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Penn State University after conducting research in regards to the current state of planetariums in Pennsylvania. Feel free to contact him at

Today’s sponsor: This episode of 365 days of astronomy is sponsored by Mat Kaplan, the host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society.  You can hear Planetary Radio every week at, through your favorite podcast distributor, or on one of more than 120 public radio stations.  We congratulate 365 Days on its 10th anniversary of bringing what our boss, Bill Nye, calls the passion, beauty and joy, the PB&J of space exploration to the world.  

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May is looking to be a great month for catching up on constellations, enjoying the warm air, and checking out the Moon getting close to the planets.

Naked-eye PLANETS

  • Around Sunset – Mars (W) until 10:30pm
  • Throughout the night – None
  • Morning – Venus (E), Saturn (S), Jupiter (SW)


  • Not easily visible this month.


  • Venus is getting harder and harder to see, as it gets closer to the Sun from our perspective. You’ll have to look low on the Eastern horizon about an hour before sunrise up until sunrise. It will be the only or brightest point of light in that direction.


  • Mars is already in the W around sunset and setting a little after 10:30 each night, which gives you less time, given the later and later sunset. Moves through Taurus. Dimmer, but still brighter and redder than its surroundings.


  • Rising between 11:30pm and 10pm, Jupiter will be very bright in the morning, off to the SSW, only about 20˚ high.


  • Rising between 1:30am and 11:30pm, Saturn will be about 25˚ to the left of Jupiter all month, hanging out in the top left of Sagittarius.


New Moon – 4th (darkest skies)

First Quarter Moon – 11th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 18th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 26th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

7thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars – Get out after dinner, find a very thin crescent Moon in the West, and Mars will be about 4˚ up and to the right of the Moon.

20th – 23rdClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn – Get out after midnight and into the morning on these 4 days to watch a waning gibbous Moon travel by two great gaseous planets. Look South, and on the 20th, the Moon will be about 5˚ to Jupiter’s right, with Saturn on the opposite side of Jupiter, about 20˚ away. The following morning, the Moon will have moved to the other side of Jupiter, and then on the 22nd it will be closer to Saturn than Jupiter, but still on Saturn’s right. On the last day, the 23rd, the Moon will finally be on the left of Saturn by about 5˚.


Use a sky map from to help you out.

After Dinner, Before Bed:

Leo, Big Dipper, Bootes – Leo will be high in the South, almost straight above you. It has a backward question mark with a right triangle to the left of the question. If you look above Leo, behind you and high in the sky, you should find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.

Before Work:

Lyra, Hercules, Hercules Cluster – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Next to that is a keystone shaped constellation called Hercules. On the right side of the keystone is a small cluster of stars known at the Hercules Cluster, which is a collection of hundreds of stars on the outskirts of our galaxy. Given how high it is in the sky right now, you might catch its faint fuzziness with your naked eye, but a set of binoculars or a small telescope will really help you see it.

Use a sky map from to help you out.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Planetary Science Institute. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by 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 or email us at This year we will celebrates the Year of Everyday Astronomers as we embrace Amateur Astronomer contributions and the importance of citizen science. Join us and share your story. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!

About Rob Webb

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