Atardecer y amanecer de los planetas, eclipse lunar y cúmulo estelar de coma

¿Qué hay para mayo? Atardecer y amanecer de los planetas, eclipse lunar y cúmulo estelar de coma.

Carta celeste Mercurio aparece bajo en el cielo occidental el 2 de mayo, acompañado por una luna creciente y la brillante estrella Aldebarán. Crédito: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Puede comenzar y terminar con dos grandes oportunidades para descubrir el planeta. El 2 de mayo, mire hacia el oeste unos 45 minutos después de la puesta del sol para encontrar a Mercurio a unos 10 grados del horizonte, acompañado de una delgada luna creciente. Justo al sur de la luna se encuentra la estrella gigante roja brillante Aldebarán, que debería tener aproximadamente el mismo brillo que Mercurio. (Y, por cierto, esta es la única oportunidad de detectar un planeta a simple vista al anochecer hasta agosto).

Júpiter y Marte aparecerán muy cerca

El gráfico del cielo muestra cómo Júpiter y Marte aparecerán muy cerca en el cielo de la mañana del 28 al 30 de mayo. Crédito: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Luego, en la última semana de mayo, puedes ver todas las mañanas como[{» attribute=»»>Jupiter and Mars get increasingly close in the predawn sky. Their morning meetup culminates in a close conjunction that you can watch on the 28th through the 30th, where they’ll be separated by barely the width of the full moon. Should look incredible with binoculars, where you can also see Jupiter’s largest moons.

Skywatchers in the Western Hemisphere can look forward to a total lunar eclipse in mid-May. The event will be visible across the Americas, Europe, and Africa – basically anywhere the Moon is above the horizon at the time.

Eclipse Visibility Map May 2022 Total Lunar Eclipse

Eclipse visibility map for the May 15-16, 2022 total lunar eclipse. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The visible part of the eclipse begins about 10:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on May 15th, with totality starting an hour later and lasting for about an hour and a half. Those in the Eastern U.S. will see the eclipse start with the Moon well above the horizon. For the Central U.S., the eclipse starts about an hour and a half after dark, with the Moon relatively low in the sky. On the West coast of the U.S., the Moon rises with totality beginning or already underway, so you’ll want to find a clear view toward the southeast if viewing from there.

Now, lunar eclipses are the ones that are safe to look at directly with your eyes, binoculars, or a telescope (unlike solar eclipses).

The Moon takes on a dim, reddish hue during the period of totality. Even though the Moon is fully immersed in Earth’s shadow at that time, red wavelengths of sunlight filter through Earth’s atmosphere and fall onto the Moon’s surface. One way to think of this is that a total lunar eclipse shows us a projection of all the sunrises and sunsets happening on the planet at that moment.

So check your local details for this eclipse, and find lots more eclipse info from NASA at this link

Finally in May, a really nice target for binoculars: the Coma star cluster. This loose, open star cluster displays 40 or 50 stars spread over a region of sky about three finger-widths wide. The brightest stars in the cluster form a distinctive Y shape, as seen here.

Coma Star Cluster in May

Sky chart showing where to find the Coma star cluster in May. The cluster is about 6° wide, and is located about 15° east of the hindquarters of Leo, the lion constellation, which is found high overhead in the south. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Coma star cluster is located about 300 light-years away, making it the second-closest open cluster to Earth after the Hyades cluster in Taurus.

To find the Coma star cluster, look southward for the constellation Leo. It can be easiest to start from the Big Dipper, toward the north, and use the two “pointer stars” on the end which always point you toward Leo. Once you’ve identified Leo, the Coma star cluster is about 15 degrees to the east of the triangle of stars representing the lion’s hindquarters. It’s relatively easy to find with binoculars, even under light-polluted urban skies – as long as it’s clear out.

So here’s wishing you clear skies for finding the Coma star cluster and any other wonders you discover in the night sky in May.

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