Skywatch Line for Wednesday, May 6th, and Thursday, May 7th, 2020

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, May 6th, and Thursday, May 7th, written by Louis Suarato

The Full Moon occurs at 6:45 a.m. Thursday. just 30 hours after perigee, when Earth is closest to the Moon during this lunar cycle, at a distance of 223,478 miles. The combination of the Full Moon and lunar perigee will cause higher, and lower, than normal tides. Tides are created when the gravitational pull of the Moon causes Earth to bulge on opposite sides. As Earth rotates under oceans, these bulges change tidal levels. During a period when the Full Moon is close to lunar perigee, some areas of the planet, like the Bay of Fundy, can have tidal swings as great as 50 feet.

Moonrise occurs at 8:35 Thursday night. While the Moon is rising, Venus will still be high over the west-northwestern horizon. Venus is 19% illuminated, and shining at -4.71 magnitude. Venus sets at 11:13 Wednesday night. Jupiter rises at 1:08 a.m. Thursday. Saturn rises 16 minutes after Jupiter. The two gas giants will be separated by 6 degrees. Mars rises at 2:40 a.m. in the constellation Capricornus.

If you have a clear eastern horizon, you may want to attempt to view Comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN) before sunrise. This comet has been viewed, and photographed, by many in the southern hemisphere, and is estimated to be 4th magnitude. Comet SWAN was discovered by amateur astronomer Michael Mattiazzo from Australia. This is the eighth comet discovered by Mattiazzo using the ESA’s and NASA’s data from the SWAN satellite. SWAN is the acronym for the Solar Wind Anisotropies camera aboard the Sun-orbiting SOHO spacecraft. Comet SWAN’s closest approach to Earth will occur on May 13th, and its closest approach to the Sun will be on May 27th. The best time to view this comet from our region is between 5 and 5:30 in the morning. Look about 6 degrees over the eastern horizon for this comet.

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