May is a relatively quiet month for stargazing, but three events stand out as the best chance to connect with the cosmos, and we start with number 2.
On the pre-dawn hours of May 7th, the Earth will pass through the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower, when 40 meteors may be seen per hour, with those closest to the Equator seeing more than those closer to the polls.
The “radiant point,” that is, the place in the sky where the meteors seem to radiate from, will be the constellation Aquarius and will be hanging low in the southern sky (or northern sky if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere).
The morning of May 7th is predicted to be the peak, but the meteors can be seen several weeks either side of the peak.
The full moon of May will happen two nights before the meteor shower’s peak. On Cinco de Mayo, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia/Oceania, there will be a penumbral lunar eclipse. For those in the US, UK, many islands in the Pacific, and the Kamchatka Peninsula, it will be too bright and sunny to see.
The Earth’s partial shadow—known in stargazing as the “penumbra,” will shade the full “Flower moon” or “Budding moon” a dusty brown color that’s usually not noticeable by the naked eye. However, the magnitude of this penumbral eclipse is well above the degree to which the human eye can see the changes.
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