SPACE JUNK: MAY 2015

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Photo Credit & Copyright: My attempt at imaging the 2,159 mile wide low albedo rock 240,000 miles away that’s lit by the nearly million mile wide fusion reactor 93 million miles away in the other direction.

Below I have listed most of the major night sky events for this month, birthdays, events in history etc. I have also listed all resources used to generate these monthly calendars at the bottom of the post so dig in, learn and enjoy! Also; if you notice something that I didn’t add that you think should be here, or if something’s incorrect definitely let me know!

Here’s a list of all major 2015 Celestial Events here: https://danspace77.com/2015-celestial-events/

Interested in Planetary Motions for 2015? Here ya go!: https://danspace77.com/2015-planetary-motions/

How about Meteor Showers for 2015? https://danspace77.com/2015-meteor-showers/

WERE YOU BORN ON A FULL MOON?! This great page from Moon Giant shows you what phase the Moon was in when you were born; check it out. (this may not work on your phone): http://www.moongiant.com/birthday_moon/

All dates and times were calculated using Military Time & Universal Time (UTC) and I also throw in eastern U.S. time (EST or EDT depending on whether its Daylight Savings or not) but beware, early morning events for UTC will actually likely be late night events on the previous date for the US. For example if something is scheduled to occur at 02:00 UTC on the 14th, that’s 21:00 EST on the 13th.

Another important thing to remember is that a calendar day is actually daylight sandwiched between two darks so when an event says, March 29 for example, you’ve got to check the time because March 29 could very well be in the morning before sunrise and not that coming night.

Finally, calculating events on the Moon is that it’s not as simple as “Ok it’s 40% illuminated so we should see this.” I wish it was that easy but because of libration, locations on the disk of the moon move slightly as we see them. One month an event could occur at 52% illumination and the next month it could occur at 54% illumination etc.

MAY (All Month) – A couple months past Opposition, Jupiter is still looking great in May. Keep an eye on it, look for the Great Red Spot and the 4 Galilean moons as they will be eclipsing and occulting each other through summer in a process known as “mutual events.” Also Saturn reaches opposition this month so have a look it’s as good as it will get all year!

MAY (All Month) – Noctilucent Cloud season as well as peak season for viewing the core of the Milky Way begins for the northern hemisphere.

MAY 01 (Fri) – Entering the month the Moon is 12 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 94% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.

MAY 01 (Fri) – The Moon reaches Ascending Node at 09:50 UTC (05:50 EDT).

MAY 01, 1925: Happy Birthday to Mercury 7 astronaut Scott Carpenter.

MAY 01, 1959: Goddard Space Flight Center is established.

MAY 01, 1979: The first Space Shuttle rollout as Space Shuttle Enterprise rolls out to LC-39A for fit-testing.

MAY 01, 2009: Mars rover Spirit becomes fatefully stuck in the sand on sol 1892.

MAY 04 (Mon) – The Full Moon will occur at 03:44 UTC (23:44 EDT on the 3rd). (Name information provided by The Farmer’s Almanac).  Full Flower Moon – May In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.

MAY 4, 1976: Launch of LAEGOS1 satellite. It’s in such a perfect orbit it should remain there for 8 million years!

MAY 05 (Tue) My single favorite phase of the Moon occurs around 95 % illumination just after full phase. I call it the “Full Crater Chain” and it’s when the terminator runs right through Mare Crisium. The chain runs up through Cleomedes, Burckhardt, Geminus, Messala, Endymion and even more impressively below Crisium through Langrenus, Vendelinus, Petavius and Furnerius. If you catch it just right you can enjoy a secondary treat as Petavius’s central peak becomes illuminated and shines alone in the darkness of the crater itself. (NOTE: With libration it may not form properly this month.).

MAY 05 (Tue) – Beltaine Cross Quarter.

MAY 05 (Tue) – Saturn comes to within 2 degrees of the Moon.

MAY 05, 1961: Alan Shepard of Derry NH rides Freedom 7 into space becoming the first American and second human to reach space.

MAY 05 & 06 (Tue night & Wed morn): Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower:  Catch some pieces of Halley’s Comet this month! Peak viewing will be on the night of Tuesday the 5th and Wednesday the 6th before sunrise.  Peak rate this year will be a modest 20-ish per hour but the 95% waning gibbous Moon will have great impact so unfortunately unless old Halley left us something big this show has flop potential.  With the name Eta Aquarids, you will obviously want to look in the general direction of the constellation Aquarius and the parent body of this event is caused by Comet 1P Halley or Halley’s Comet.  As always, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Peak might be 06/07 but active dates should range from April 19th all the way out to May 26th but the further from peak you get the less you will see however.   So if it’s clear, have a look!

Peak night is usually a given night and next morning with the “next morning” being the absolute best time to watch. In fact the closer to morning twilight you can get, the better…..here’s why. If you view the solar system from the top, planets orbit the Sun in a counter clockwise motion, we also rotate in a counter clockwise motion. That means just before sunrise the Earth is pointed in the direction of travel of the Earth itself and meteors are mere “bugs (Or if you prefer; “snowflakes”) hitting the windshield” of Spaceship Earth. For more info on this shower hit the link: https://danspace77.com/2015-meteor-showers/

MAY 07 (Thu) – The Moon is at its Greatest Southern Declination of -18.20 degrees.

May 07 (Thu) – Mercury reaches Greatest Eastern Elongation of 21 degrees E so have a look in the west after sunset.

MAY 11 (Mon) – The brilliant Walther Sunset Ray will occur around 02:25 UTC (22:25 EDT on the 10th). Located in the ancient 145 kilometer (90 mile) Necterian age crater named Walther (Formerly Walter or Valtherus) is a special treat that occurs monthly for a matter of a few hours when illumination is around 44%. On the western rim of the crater there’s a notch and when the Sun is setting low on the lunar horizon (When the crater is near the terminator) light penetrates the notch, creating a vast triangle or “V” shaped light ray across the craters floor that ends as it illuminates the central peak of the crater. Walther Crater a heavily eroded crater located in the Lunar Southern Highlands at the Selenographic Coordinates (Definition below) of Latitude: 33.1°S / Longitude: 1.0°E. It’s named after German astronomer Bernhard Walther. This crater also has a sunrise ray that instead of a light ray is a long shadow cast by the central peak.

MAY 11 (Mon) – Last Quarter (3rd Quarter) Moon occurs this month at 10:36 UTC (06:36 EDT).

MAY 11 (Mon) – Sunset on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible about the day of or day after last quarter (about 45-50% illuminated) the setting Sun causes it to look white as it illuminates the slope.  Two weeks later, during lunar sunrise after first quarter it will appear black.

MAY 11 (Fri) – Pico Mons Sunset.  The day of or day after last quarter (around 50% illuminated) the setting Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

MAY 11, 1918: Happy Birthday Richard Feynman.

MAY 12 (Tue) – The CURTISS CROSS, is a creation of shadows throughout craters Gambart and Parry which create an “X” shaped formation and will occur around 07:08 UTC (03:08 EST).  The Curtiss Cross is associated with the third (last) quarter Moon and forms about 14 hours past the third quarter mark.

MAY 12 (Tue) – 23 (Sat) As of Tuesday the 12th we are on the verge of May’s new moon (Lunation 1143), this week presents nights that are the absolute BEST nights to get out and observe Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) because you won’t have to look through the spotlight that is the Moon. Night skies without the Moon are significantly more productive for viewing and photography ANY night sky object (besides the Moon itself of course). For the lucky ones, this week offers the amazing spectacle of the extreme crescent moon, both waning in the east & waxing in the west.

MAY 14 (Thu) – The Moon reaches Descending Node at 20:37 UTC (16:37 EDT).

MAY 14, 1973: Launch of Skylab 1 from LC-39A.

MAY 15 (Fri) – Perigee Moon occurs at 00:27 UTC (20:27 EDT on the 14th) and is when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. It will be subtending at 33’arc minutes from a distance of 366,035 km (227,444 mi).

MAY 15, 1963: Launch of Mercury Atlas 9, Gordon Cooper in Faith 7.

MAY 18 (Mon) – New Moon (LUNATION 1143) occurs at 04:15 UTC (00:15 EDT).

MAY 18, 1969: Launch of the fastest humans in recorded history, Apollo 10 from LC-39B.

MAY 19 (Tue) – The Moon occults Aldebaran for some observers in North America at 02:35 UTC (22:35 EDT on the 18th).

MAY 20 (Wed) – The Moon reaches its Greatest Northern Declination of +18.23 degrees.

MAY 20, 1927: Charles Lindbergh leaves Roosevelt Field on Long Island for the first Atlantic crossing.

MAY 20, 1932: Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland on her Atlantic crossing.

MAY 20, 2009: Scott Parazynski becomes the only person to fly into space and climb Mt. Everest. He also carried Moon rock (chip) with him.

MAY 23 (Sat) – Saturn reaches opposition which means Earth is directly between the Sun and Saturn giving us a full-disk view of the ringed planet while it’s at its closest. In addition, opposition means that Saturn will act like the full moon, rising at sunset, staying up all night and setting during sunrise. Ring tilt is a treat right now as well at about 25.5 degrees.

MAY 24, 1962: Mercury Atlas 7, Scott Carpenter in Aurora 7 launch.

MAY 25 (Mon) – First Quarter Moon is the Moon watchers paradise. Occurring at 17:20 UTC (13:20 EDT), First Quarter Moons and the waxing crescent phase leading up to it offer some of the most visually stunning views the Moon has to offer. Most of us will take the beautiful curves, valleys and shadows of a 1st Quarter Moon over a Full Moon ANY day.

MAY 25 (Mon) – LUNAR-X also known as the PURBACH or WERNER CROSS is scheduled to begin forming the “X” around 15:45 UTC (11:45 EDT). The Lunar-X is the big, more prominent brother to the Curtiss Cross. This “X” is created by shadowing throughout the rims and ridges of craters LaCaille, Blanchinus and Purbach. The “X” formations occur along the terminator (where “day” meets “night” across the Moon).  It typically begins just after first quarter when the Moon is approximately 53% illuminated.

MAY 25, 1961: “We choose to go to the Moon….” JFK speech during a joint session of Congress.

MAY 25, 1966: First ever Saturn V rollout. Pathfinder Saturn V or Saturn V 500F rolls to LC-39A.

MAY 25, 1973: Launch of Skylab 2, the first crew to America’s first space station.

MAY 26 (Tue) – Apogee Moon occurs at 22:20 UTC (18:20 EDT) where the Moon is at its furthest point from Earth in its current orbit and will be subtending at 29’ arc minutes from a distance of 404,252 km (251,190 mi).

MAY 26 (Tue) – MAGINUS SUNRISE RAY will occur around 09:56 UTC (05:56 EDT). At the right times and as the Sun rises over the Crater Maginus (Near the terminator) a beautiful sun ray shines through a break in the craters eastern wall. The result is a vast triangle or “V” formation of light cast upon the crater floor for a period of a few hours. Maginus Crater (Named after Italian astronomer Giovanni Antonio Magini) is a pre-Nectarian impact crater located in the southern lunar highlands and to the south east of Tycho Crater. It’s 110 miles (177km.) and has been extremely eroded by subsequent impacts on or near the site through the millennia. Its selenographic coordinates (Definition below) are Latitude: 50.5°S / Longitude: 6.3°W.

MAY 26, 1951: Birth of Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space.

MAY 26, 1969: Splashdown of Apollo 10 and CSM Charlie Brown. In their return they achieved the record of fastest humans in history 24,791 mph or 39,897 kph.

MAY 27, 1954: Happy Birthday Lawrence Krauss.

MAY 27 (Sat) – Pico Mons Sunrise occurs the night of or the night after first quarter (around 62% illuminated) the rising Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

MAY 28 (Thu) – Sunrise on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible the night of or the night after first quarter (around 60% illuminated) the rising Sun causes it to look black as its shadow is cast.  Two weeks later, during lunar sunset it will appear white.

MAY 31, 1975: Happy Birthday European Space Agency (ESA).

MAY 31 (Sun) – Leaving the month the Moon is 13 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 95% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.

***Definition of LIBRATION (basically) – Is an oscillation of an orbiting body relative to another. OK, so…We know the Earth/Moon system is tidally locked so we always see the same side of the moon. Due to libration, we ACTUALLY see about 60% of the Moon instead of what you may intuitively think of as a 50% measurement. That’s because the Moon oscillates slightly as it rotates and orbits Earth. So, on occasion and with a keen eye we can see a little further “around the corner” north, south, east and west on the moon by a couple degrees.

***SUBTENDING Explained – Definition: The angle formed by an object at a given external point. The moon subtends an angle of approximately 0.54° (32 arc minutes) to an observer on the Earth. Of course, the moon’s orbit is not constant or exactly circular, so this varies a little, but not by very much. If you hold up your thumb at arm’s length, you can easily cover the full moon. This means your thumb subtends a larger angle to your eye at arm’s length than the moon does at 380,000 kilometers. In general, the closer you are to a particular object the larger that subtending angle.

***SELENOGRAPHIC COORDINATES Defined – Selenographic coordinates are used to refer to locations on the surface of Earth’s Moon. Any position on the lunar surface can be referenced by specifying two numerical values, which are comparable to the latitude and longitude of Earth. The longitude gives the position east or west of the Moon’s prime meridian, which is the line of longitude passing through the point on the lunar surface directly facing Earth. (See also Earth’s prime meridian.) This can be thought of as the midpoint of the visible Moon as seen from the Earth. The latitude gives the position north or south of the lunar equator. Both of these coordinates are given in terms of degrees. Astronomers defined the fundamental location in the selenographic coordinate system by the small, bowl-shaped satellite crater ‘Mösting A’. The coordinates of this crater are defined as: Latitude: 3° 12′ 43.2″ South / Longitude: 5° 12′ 39.6″ West. The coordinate system has become precisely defined due to the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. Anything past 90°E or 90°W would not be seen from Earth, except for libration, which makes 59% of the Moon visible.

NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Northern Hemisphere 2015:

NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Southern Hemisphere 2015:

2015 Moon phases with TIMES: http://www.calendar-12.com/moon_phases/2015

2015 Moon phase & illumination calendar: http://www.calendar-12.com/moon_calendar/2015/june

2015 Perigee & Apogee DATES, TIMES & DISTANCES as well as Full & New Moon dates & times (John Walker’s Fourmilab): http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/pacalc.html

2015 Perigee & Apogee: http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/distance.html?year=2015&n=156

Lunar Ray predictions: http://www.lunar-occultations.com/rlo/rays/rays.htm

Farmer’s Almanac Full Moon Names: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/

Lunar ASCENDING & DESCENDING Nodes: http://astropixels.com/ephemeris/moon/moonnodes2001.html

Greatest NORTHERN & SOUTHERN Declinations of the Moon (Richard Nolle’s Astro Pro): http://www.astropro.com/features/tables/cen21ce/mo-dcl-2015.html

FULL YEAR of Lunar Cycles: Previous and Future years as well: http://kalender-365.de/lunar-calendar.php?yy=2015

Full & New Moon Calendar: http://www.moongiant.com/Full_Moon_New_Moon_Calendar.php

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times: http://www.40-below.com/sunmoon/

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the DAY: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the YEAR: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneYear.php

BLUE MOON Calendar: http://www.moongiant.com/Blue_Moon_Calendar.php

SUPERMOON Calendar (Richard Nolle’s Astro Pro): http://www.astropro.com/features/tables/cen21ce/suprmoon.html

Moon Phases for ANY date: http://www.moonpage.com/

NASA GODDARD Moon NOW: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a004100/a004118/

Moon right NOW: http://www.calculatorcat.com/moon_phases/phasenow.php

Moon right NOW: http://www.die.net/moon/

Moon right NOW: http://www.calendar-365.com/moon/current-moon-phase.html

NASA JPL Ephemeris Calculator: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?horizons

Lunar Ephemeris Calculator: http://www.lunar-occultations.com/rlo/ephemeris.htm

Equinoxes/Solstices: http://wwp.greenwich-mean-time.eu/longest-day/

Sunrise & Sunset CHART: http://sunrisehour.com/sunrise-sunset/united_states/boston_ma

Kilometers (km) to miles (mi.) converter: http://www.metric-conversions.org/length/kilometers-to-miles.htm

2015 Astronomical Events: http://www.astropixels.com/ephemeris/astrocal/astrocal2015pst.html

Occult Software: http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/occult4.htm

Greatest Elongations of Mercury & Venus:  http://www.jgiesen.de/skymap/MercuryVenus/

Steve Preston’s Asteroid Occultations: http://www.asteroidoccultation.com/2015-Best-Events.htm

US Naval Observatory Celestial Phenomena for 2015: http://asa.usno.navy.mil/

Seiichi Yoshida’s Weekly bright Comets: http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html

International Meteor Organizations 2015 Information: http://www.imo.net/

Satellite Tracking: http://www.stoff.pl/

NASA Eclipses: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html

S&T Jupiter 2015 Observation Almanac: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/a-jupiter-almanac/

S&T Galilean Moon Mutual Events: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/sky-and-telescope-magazine/beyond-the-printed-page/mutual-events-jupiters-satellites-201415/

S&T Jupiter Moon Events 2015: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/sky-and-telescope-magazine/beyond-the-printed-page/mutual-events-jupiters-satellites-201415/

Northern Virginia Astronomy Club: Jupiter Moon Events for 2015: http://www.novac.com/wp/observing/jeffscorner/next-years-galilean-moon-events/

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