What's coming up in the northern hemisphere's night sky in the month of 9 to 15 May 2022.
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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 our 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 from 9th to 15th May. I'm Ezzy Pearson in the magazine's news editor and I'm joined on the podcast today by reviews editor Paul Money. Hi, Paul.

Paul Money Hello. Easy way. Ready to go again for another week,

Ezzy Pearson another week and another bunch of things to see in the night sky. Let's go.

Paul Money Well, you know what? It's not often we get off to a second week with an evening object. A nice, convenient time this time. And it's one of those that I mean, obviously we can see the Moon and the first quarter moon on May 9th lies right next to Eta Leonis. and Eta Leonis is above Regulus, the brightest star in Leo The Lion. But it's also an area which we call the Sickle asterism. So you've actually got slightly Regulus, you got Eta, you've got Algebra about that which is a wonderful double star. I mean, it's a bit tight around about five seconds apart. So you've not just got the first quarter moon to enjoy. You can actually look at the sickle asterism. Looks like a backwards question mark to me as well, but you've also got Algibra above them, Gamma Leonis this wonderful golden yellow pair of stars are quite high I say, but well worth having a look at in binoculars, but you don't need binoculars for the Moon. You can see the Moon right next to Eta with Regulus below them. And it's worth looking at, I mean, you're talking about 10:00 o'clock in the evening as the sky gets darker, but you'll see the moon. Obviously, the one of the beauties is the Moon. You can see when he first caught, you can actually see it in daytime. Number of times I've had people say to me, I saw the moon in the daytime, I said, Well, yeah, it goes round the Earth. So at times... There will be times when it's up in the daytime sky. Simple as that, but they are right next to Eta Leonis so well worth looking at. That's on May 9th. Now, we skip a couple of days and we go to May 11th when, yes, we're back to the morning sky Yes. But unlike you like challenges, don't you? I like challenge as well. I mean, you know, I mean, if it's all too easy, then you get a bit boring. So the challenge here is that we've got this nice red of bright planets we've discussed for several weeks now. In the mornings gone, I'm looking at about four a.m., 4:11 to allow for Venus to rise because Venus and Jupiter have now got quite a gap between this is the 11th May remember. So there's a big gap formed between them. But interestingly, they're fairly evenly spaced between Venus, Jupiter and Mars. But in this case, now use binoculars between Jupiter, Mars almost halfway, and we find there's another planet with Neptune lurking there now we have to bear in mind that it is bright twilight, so it is going to be a challenge. But that's why it's a challenge, because it's in the bright twilight skies. It's magnitude 7.9, so it is quite faint in that respect. But if you know exactly where to look, you might be able to pick it out. And if you can't find it in binoculars and have a telescope pointed telescope in that direction, you will stand the better chance, perhaps to pick it out with the more light gathering capability of the actual telescope. Now, that isn't the only challenge of this, because I say that's between Jupiter and Mars. But now look at Saturn now. Saturn is well over in towards the south east, and it's not far from Delta Capricorni. In fact, it forms a triangle with that star and the minor planet Vesta. Number 4 to be actually discovered. So again, it will need binoculars. It's a similar magnitude, slightly brighter, I think magnitude 7.2. So a tad brighter than Neptune, and it's a bit higher in a slightly darker sky. So they are, but it'll form a nice triangle with Saturn and Delta Capricorni. So well worth having a look at them. And if you do that, if you think about it, you've got the four bright planets. You got a fifth fainter planet and you've got a minor world. You've got another Solar System object as well. So, you know, it's well worth trying with binoculars first and then maybe even a telescope to try to defeat the twilight and pick out these fainter objects. So a plethora of planetary system, Solar System objects in the morning sky for you to hunt down rather than just the plain old boring bright ones. Now, we're back to not just past midnight, midnight onwards sort of thing, the first couple of hours of May 13th, look for the Moon. Now there are times when bright stars get occulted. This is where the moon passes in front of the star and blocks out its light for a set amount of time. And in the early hours of Friday 13th. Yes, I know that date, but we can't. I'm not superstitious. Are you superstitious? We scientists as well shouldn't be superstitious. Hint I am slightly. It's Friday 13th. Good grief, you know, that's the one date to strike fear into most people, but look for the Moon in the early hours of the morning we're talking about. Say, start about 1:30 in the morning, but an occultation Porrimer Gamma Virginis, will be a in roughly 1am, but you've got to bear in mind, depending on where you are in the UK, Italy, it'll either be occulted slightly earlier than that or slightly later. So bear that in mind. We always say 10 to 15 minutes before the event. Look at it just so you don't miss out. So it's about just under an hour that its disappeared for. And then it'll reappear roughly at about 2:42 am and again, have that caveat of 15 minutes either way. Just keep an eye. Now it occults, The Moon occults Porrima on the dark side of the moon, and then it reappears on the bright side. So the dark side is the interesting one because I always find it strange because you got the you can't really see the dark side. Part of the moon is like a dark crescent, so you'll see the star and then suddenly it'll go out. Or will it because it's actually a tight double star? So this is one of those things where by this is how often double stars were discovered when they noticed the star didn't wink out straight away, as it should do if it's a single star, it faded a little bit and then went out. And that told astronomers they were actually a double star. So this is a good chance to re-enact that experiment and see Porrima being occulted and see how the light changes. Instead of being one dimming, it goes down and then out completely. So there we are, close double star for you. So well, we're having a look at with Porrima.

Ezzy Pearson I always think that's really nice when you can recreate some of those that have the sort of classic astronomy experiments, you know, take a step back in time and actually act like because so much of astronomy now these days is done with these, you know, huge fancy telescopes that, like even professional astronomers don't go anywhere near. And so being able to sort of sit at your telescope at the eyepiece like the astronomers did in the days of yee old and make these discoveries in inverted commas for yourself, I think is always a magical experience, and I highly recommend doing it if you can.

Paul Money I agree totally. You know, I mean, you are and you seeing the Solar System in operation, we can talk about the clockwork Solar System because we can predict these things so accurately. And so, you know, this is this is what you're doing. You'll see in the real motion of the Moon carried in front of the stars because naked eye, you don't really notice it. It's only when you've actually got binoculars or a telescope and you get an occultation that you suddenly think hang on the Moon is actually moving. I like it when he's moving through a cluster of stars like the Pleiades or or +40 for the Beehive cluster, but we haven't finished there because we have a second occultation now. We don't often recommend occultations when they're really close to full Moon, but I still think it's worth going because if the occultation is on the dark limb, you still got that moment where you got this slither of darkness, which you can't really see. So the star catches you out. It suddenly goes out and the star. In this case, this is on May the 14th and it's in the evening sky 10:30 roughly before it gets occulted, sort of thing. So the occultation takes place around about 10:30. Remember that caveat - 15 minutes either way, and the star is Lambda Virginis, and so it's technically a naked eye star. It's in a bit of a void. Virgo is quite a large constellation. So it's still this sort of light eastern side of the Constellation or on its own as well, but reappearance because about 11:33 - again 15 minutes either side just in case. So, you know, this week we get two occultations. Come on. It's a miracle. There wasn't a third, but it wasn't quite like buses this time. But I love the because... I hope we have clear skies for these, because that's the other caveat, isn't it? We have these events occur and you know, again, so that don't have me anywhere near because I seem to be a cloud magnet because every time I want to say something like this, it's cloudy, you know? So you know, it's one of those things. But you know, I love these occultations and we get two in one week. I mean, you know, after that, we don't get any.

Ezzy Pearson It doubles your chances of seeing one, it might be cloudy on one of them, but hopefully it won't be cloudy on the other.

Paul Money Exactly. Exactly. So well worth having a go. So there we are. So. Quite a busy week, really.

Ezzy Pearson Yeah, it does certainly sound like there's lots of really interesting things to see in the night sky, so thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us Paul.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of the Star Diary podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. For more of our podcast, visit our website at www.skyatnightmagazine.com. Or head to accost 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.