Star Diary Podcast: 2 to 8 May 2022

What's coming up in the northern hemisphere's night sky in the month of 2 to 8 May 2022.

Star Diary astronomy podcast. Find out what's in the night sky, March 2021
Published: May 1, 2022 at 8:00 am

What's coming up in the northern hemisphere's night sky in the month of 2 to 8 May 2022.


Link to Star Diary episode.


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 or to a digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.

Ezzy Pearson Greetings listeners, 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 of 2nd to 8th May. I'm Ezzy Pearson, the magazine's news editor, and I'm joined on the podcast today by reviews editor Paul Money. Hello Paul

Paul Money Hello, Ezzy, how's things?

Ezzy Pearson Things are going well. So, Paul, what can you tell me about what's going to be coming up in the next week in the night sky?

Paul Money Well, we often talk about the fact that so much is happening in the morning sky, and we have to get up. Guess what? We've got an evening event to start with. Absolutely brilliant. I know it's lot easier to observe. You don't have to stay up all night, but we've got Mercury in the evening sky. But we will lose it during the coming week. So it's time to grab Mercury while he can. And he's got a great little apparition on the second with the slim crescent moon to its left. A really young crescent moon to its right slightly below it is the Pleiades, Messier 45, that wonderful star cluster. And this is really your last chance to get the Pleiades and nearby Hyades with Aldebaran as well. Taurus. We're losing the winter constellations now. Oh no! The light nights are creeping on us as such. But this is a great evening apparition I mean, you know, the cluster will be harder in the twilight, but Mercury should be easily visible and because obviously the crescent moon as well. You need to look in roughly west northwest about 9:30pm, so you know not too late so you'll be able to observe it and binoculars, naked eye that sort of thing, you know, to actually get them a good view, really to see them. But this is your last chance, really for Mercury this next week. And if you don't get it now, it will rapidly drop back down into the twilight, very... Into the solar glare and we'll lose it. but it's nice to have it next to the moon and next to the Pleiades as well. Now, moving on, while we're talking about the Moon, it's one of those targets whereby it's a lovely crescent. But look at that crescent. Now you might notice with a crescent, there's a there's a little bit of a black spot black area on that crescent disk. And what you're seeing is Mare Crisium, the sea of crises. And the thing about this is it's a lovely feature to capture because you need to capture on day three and day four after New Moon, which ironically works out well with May 3 and May 4. So this is a good time to get it on the third. The actual Terminator the day night boundary is actually bisecting the sea, so it's cut in half, but by the fourth, the whole of the sea mechanism will be available. And the thing about this is that it's got a nice dark floor. This is the lava of the basalt call very quickly. That's why it's quite dark. So it stands out extremely well and there are several craters. I'm going to pick out one, mainly because is a good, it seems like there's a connection with a famous franchise, sci fi franchise Star Trek. It's called Picard. No, not Jean-Luc of The Next Generation. No, this is actually Jean Picard, who is a 17th century French astronomer, a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1666.

Ezzy Pearson I mean, I'm fairly sure Jean-Luc Picard name was stolen from Jean Picard, the astronomer do to do that in Star Trek and things, so I think it's a bit too close. The French astronomer Jean Picard, I wouldn't be surprised.

Paul Money So there you are. The lineage of Jean Luc.

Ezzy Pearson I do have to say I love the sometimes love the names of various places on the Moon. You know, you've got like Picard, you've got the the Sea of Tranquillity, like the Bay of Rainbows, the Sea of Crises.

Paul Money Yes. What? What made them think of the sea of crises? What was going through their mind at the time? Perhaps there was a storm at sea, you know, that made them think, Hmm, yeah, Sea of Crises. That would be a good one as such. So but yes, there's a lot of astronomers, astronomers, mathematicians, scientists named on the moon craters. So, you know, so hopefully over the coming months, as we do the podcast, we might pick out a few more. But that caught my eye. Picard. I don't think there's a crater data on the Moon. Not as far as as I'm aware

Ezzy Pearson There's probably an asteroid.

Paul Money I wouldn't be surprised.

Ezzy Pearson Asteroids have all kinds of weird and wonderful names.

Paul Money Would that mean in the future, they'd go data mining?

Ezzy Pearson Oh...

Paul Money Oh. That's absolutely terrible, Linda. Anyway, rapidly moving on because of my poor joke. We now switch back to the morning sky because let's face it, at the moment, a lot of the action is in the morning sky because we've had so many planets there that a naked eye, we've got Saturn, Mars, Jupiter and Venus. Now, literally, Yesterday, on May 1st Jupiter and Venus were actually in conjunction just 22 arc minutes apart. So from now on, they're going to get wider and wider. The gap between them increases. And this is because Venus is dropping back into the solar glare. But Jupiter is creeping out, so we've got the advantage. We're going to gain Jupiter, but we're going to eventually lose Venus. So we've got four major planets at the moment. So then we got Venus and Mars, the inner planets, and we've got Jupiter and Saturn as well. So well worth keeping an eye on them sort of thing as the week progresses, because you'll see quite a gap building between Venus and Jupiter. You want to be roughly looking east to south east and south east for Saturn, and you'll find about 4:40 in the morning. The problem is the light is getting quite light, isn't it now in the morning sky? It has to be said. So, you know, this is worth catching those planets while you can. So there we are. So that's the planet in the morning sky as you do have to set an alarm unless, you're a real late night person and stay up all night. But then we come to the 6th, May 6th, we have a meteor shower. Now, the thing about meteor showers is they get a lot of media hype. They use the zenith hourly rate, which for some reason have gone out of my head now. But the point about the Eta Aquarids is they're better seen in the southern hemisphere because they're quite low down. But the actual the radiant is sort of like above Mars near the star ETA Aquarii. Hence the name ETA Aquarids. So the thing about this is that you will see some, but you really need to observe them as soon as Mars and Saturn get above the horizon, start watching up until dawn. But don't expect high rates because unfortunately, it's not well-placed for the northern hemisphere, but it doesn't mean to say you won't get any mages at all. So, you know, if you fancy spot, a meteor hunting and it's a clear morning. You know, have a go at the Eta Aquarids itself, but make sure you get them before dawn. But remember when the media mentioned the zenith hourly rate and starts hyping up, that's under perfect conditions, looking directly above us on the pitch, black skies with barely any atmosphere is certainly between us. Mind you, if there's no atmosphere, we won't see the meteors, what we.

Ezzy Pearson We wouldn't see a lot.

Paul Money Exactly! Exactly. No atmosphere, no meteors in the sky. They will be meteoroids until they hit, when they become a meteorite. Oh, that definition always gets so many people in a twirl because they don't get it right sort of thing. But in space, it's a meteoroid, in the atmosphere it's a meteor. And if they land, they're big enough that are meteorite. But I don't believe you get meteorites from the Eta Aquarid. You tend to get these lovely streaks, which are just the meteors, but keep an eye on them just in case it's worth it were, you know, if you get a clear sky,

Ezzy Pearson I always think with meteor showers is as long as you you know what you should expect, they're always worth it. Because, you know, whilst your observing try to find meteors, you can still, you know, enjoy the night sky. You can still look up at the stars if you're lucky enough to be able to. In a place where you can see the Milky Way, you can enjoy that. And it's it's just it's just sort of knowing that you might only see one or two over the course of the night and then it becomes like a hunt. It's a sort of game to try and see how many of these things you can spot, which I always think is fun. And again, it's like we were talking about last week with comets being these kind of like fickle things. Meteor showers are the same. We know when we there going to happen, but we don't know exactly when a meteor is going to appear. We don't... We can't know that if we look at this specific point on the night sky at this specific time, we'll see one. So I think that's always a bit fun for me.

Paul Money And I can guarantee you shouldn't really have me anywhere near you observing mages wherever they are. If I am a camera in one direction that behind me always, I can guarantee something. And the key is to set up several meteor cameras all at once.

Ezzy Pearson I need you to be near me and then I need to face the other direction.

Paul Money But there we are. So end of week one.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of the Story Diary 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 a coast, iTunes or Spotify.


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

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