What's coming up in the northern hemisphere's night sky in the month of 16 to 22 May 2022.
Listen to the episode here.



Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine by visiting www.SkyatNightMagazine.Com or to a digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.

Ezzy Pearson Greetings, listeners, and welcome to Star Diary, a weekly guide to the best things to see in the northern hemisphere's night sky in this episode, we'll be covering the coming week from 16th to 22nd May. I'm Ezzy Pearson, the magazine's news editor, and I'm joined on the podcast today by our reviews editor Paul Money. Hello, Paul.

Paul Money Hiya. Are you ready for this week?

Ezzy Pearson It's time for another week. Let's go,

Paul Money You know, I'm sure you're like me. You love eclipses of the Moon.

Ezzy Pearson Absolutely.

Paul Money Well, we kick off the week with an eclipse on the Moon. There's a bit of a caveat here, though it's oh no in the morning sky. No! And unfortunately, it actually sets just as it goes total. So we get off an eclipse. But half an eclipse is better than none, isn't it? Yes, exactly. So we kick it off with an eclipse and it's in the morning sky, but it's one of those things that you need a clear, uncluttered southwest horizon because it will be set in as it goes into eclipse. Now the moon enters the penumbra. This is the fainter part of the Earth's shadow, the outer zone. And that's it. 2:32 a.m. But then enters the darker the umbra part and the Earth's shadow at 3:27 a.m. So you've got several hours to observe this as it goes through the the early fight. It looks like the actual phases of the Moon, so the Moon gradually has more and more the full moon being cut off by the Earth's shadow sweeping across it. It doesn't go total until 5:11 a.m. now depends on where you are in the UK, but Moon set occurs roughly around this sort of time. The centre of the UK is about 5:12, the Moon set. So literally within a minute of going total, the Moon will set, so you will need this uncluttered southwest horizon to actually see it. Some won't quite see it going to totality because it was set early. Others will catch probably a minute or two more of the totality, but at least we get to see something as long as we have clear skies. At least we will get to see a partial eclipse in this case, literally is partial because we only partially see it, you know? But if you're further around towards us, I think the eastern seaboard of the US, you'll get the whole of the eclipse itself. So this is one favouring them, but at least we get to see the first half.

Ezzy Pearson Yeah, I would say, you know, we have listeners all over the world. Hello, everybody. So if you aren't based in the UK, definitely look up what time your Moon set is, and you might get lucky and be able to see the whole thing, if you will. Moon sets after five 11 a.m.

Paul Money It'll be an interesting one because with it set in just as it goes into totality, of course, when the Moon is in total eclipse, it looks dull red. But you've got the added effect that is setting. now, just like the red sunset and we actually have a red moon. When it sets, it'll be adding to the effect. So I wonder whether it'll make it very dark this particular one, because it would be very low down and looking through more of the atmosphere as well as you've got the red in in effect, but you've also got the dimming effect on the atmosphere as well. So you've got several factors to play into that If you're in the UK. So well worth having a look at just to see what sort of effect actually takes place as the actually sets. Now we move on May the 18th now by the 18th, oh, we're back in the morning sky, but it's worth it. Trust me, it's worth it. Well, I think he's worth it anyway. We've got Jupiter and Mars. We mentioned Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Saturn. Yes, they are still there, but concentrate on Jupiter and in particular, Mars, because these things, they don't stay still. They're not stopped in the night sky. They're not fixed like the stars. That's what planet means. Wandering star. And so Mars is still moving against the background stars of Aquarius, but Neptune is nearby. Now we mentioned it last week when you could actually see it between Mars and Jupiter, while now Mars is in conjunction with Neptune. So if we didn't catch Neptune last week, then it might be worth trying now because Mars will be below. So Mars acts like a guide, even though it is much brighter. So Neptune magntitude 7.9 Mars around about magnitude +0.2 if remember correctly so quite bright and quite a big difference between them. But binoculars and obviously a small telescope will really help this case, and so it's worth grabbing another planet. If you didn't get it last week, try to grab it now. Cause you get a bright planet next to it? This is the this is always great when you've got a bright object next to either moon or a bright planet guiding you to a fainter object as well. So well, we're having a look at Neptune will be to the upper left of Mars. And I say, look about four a.m. roughly over in the east, Jupiter will be to the left and Saturn will be way off to their right as well. And Venus now is getting extremely low. Lying to the left of Jupiter and the gap is getting further and further between them, but I mentioned Mars moving. Well as Jupiter's pulling out it's a slower moving planet. It's further away, Mars is a faster motion against the background stars. And now just as we saw Jupiter, Venus catch up on past each other. Now we're getting to the point whereby Mars is closing the gap on Jupiter itself. So May the 22nd, they getting a lot closer. But on that morning as well, it's well worth looking out. Look at Saturn because the Moon the last quarter Moon will lie below Saturn on the 22nd to end our week. Again at roughly four a.m. You look towards the Southeast for Saturn and the Moon. But so you've got quite a few planetary bodies there if you can still get Vesta and Neptune as well. One two three four five six seven Planetary bodies. Oh, sorry, eight. Because you can see the Earth. Obviously.

Ezzy Pearson You never want to forget the Earth. It's kind of an important one to us, even if it is down instead of up.

Paul Money Yeah, we do forget that we're looking at the Earth. So you know the planet, you could only say, well, even if it's cloudy, you can see one planet. But that makes quite an interesting week. So I think planetary wise. So we've got quite a few planetary encounters there. And with the Moon joining in as well as. The Moon gets in everything done, I

Ezzy Pearson always think, you know, the Moon gets a bit unloved by astronomers. It's always there. It's very accessible. It's usually the very first thing when you look up in the night sky and you start doing astronomy, it's the first thing you ever look for. You know, when you're even, you know, sort of a child like even a baby, you can see the Moon.

Paul Money I agree. I mean, you know, it's it is. And it's the first thing that gives you a chance to learn about astronomy and you learn about the phases as well as you watch it, and it's so reliable. So, you know, as long as the sky is clear what you've usually got the moon at some point, whether it's in the early evening, late at night or in the early hours of the morning,

Ezzy Pearson You can always see the Moon. And if you can't, it's probably not a good night to do astronomy. Unless it's new, obviously.

Paul Money And then it might an eclipse of the Sun.

Ezzy Pearson And then it's a great night to do astronomy.

Paul Money Well, yes. Yes. So no moon in the sky. So then get get your telescope out of the deep sky.

Ezzy Pearson Well, hopefully it won't be cloudy all this week, and you'll be able to get out there and see something listeners and please do let us know if you manage to catch any good sights.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of the story podcast from the makers of BBC Scotland magazine. For more of our podcast, visit our website at Sky at Night Magazine Dot Com or head to Acast, iTunes or Spotify.


Elizabeth Pearson
Ezzy PearsonScience journalist

Ezzy Pearson is the Features Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Her first book about the history of robotic planetary landers is out now from The History Press.