This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29, written by Sam Salem.
The Sun rises at 5:23am and sets at 8:24pm on Friday. Last Quarter Moon occurs on Sunday at 8:12 am. The Moon rises 10 minutes after midnight on Friday. It rises at 1:25am and sets at 12:49pm on Sunday. Try to spot the Moon in the daylight. It is still interesting to look at the Moon with a telescope at the daylight even though it doesn’t show its details as sharply as at night. Just as you observe the Moon at night, the best area to look is along the line between the day and night parts or the Moon.
On Friday, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot transits Jupiter’s central meridian around 2:02am. It is positioned in excellent view for an hour before and after. Jupiter, in southern Leo, stands high in the south in twilight then starts declining toward the southwest.
On Saturday, the bright orange-yellow Mars is seen at the head of Scorpius, reaching its closest distance to Earth on May 30th. During the evening, Antares is about 9 degrees lower left of Mars and Saturn is around 8 degrees to the left of Antares. The best time to view the two planets, Mars and Saturn, in a telescope is when they stand highest in the south around 2am. Mars appears 18.4 to 18.6 arcseconds in diameter. If you have a big telescope, now is the time to try to find the tiny Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos.
Constellation Virgo appears in the evening sky on late May. It is the largest constellation of the Zodiac and the second-largest constellation overall. However, Virgo, the goddess of the harvest, is difficult to most people to make out its pattern of the winged maiden holding an ear of what in her left hand.
Luckily, Virgo’s first-magnitude star, sparkling blue-white Spica, makes this constellation fairly easy to locate in the night sky. You can star-hop to Spica from the handle of the Big Dipper. Spica is a spectroscopic binary which is a system of two main stars so close together. They are egg-shaped rather than spherical, and can only be separated by their spectrum.
On Many 29, 1919, a solar eclipse permitted observation of the bending of starlight passing through the sun’s gravitational field, as predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. The findings made Einstein a celebrity overnight. This eclipse was photographed from the expedition of Sir Arthur Eddington to the island of Principe off the west coast of Africa. Positions of star images within the field near the Sun were used to test Albert Einstein’s prediction of the bending of light around the Sun. The stars which Eddington’s expedition observed were in the constellation Taurus.
The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers Star Watch at the Deerfield Pavilion in Grafton Lakes State Park is scheduled for this Friday at 8:30PM. If cancelled for poor skies, The Star Watch will be reschedules for Saturday night. Directions to the Deerfield Pavilion can be found at: http://dudleyobservatory.org/AAAA/directions/.