Moon Phases – May 2011

Here are the Moon phases in the Northern hemisphere for May 2011 and other interesting things of note in the sky.

3rd May: New Moon
10th May: First Quarter
17th May: Full Moon
24th May: Last Quarter

We’re getting into the lighter nights making stargazing more difficult for all but the hardiest of night owls! Still, there’s a lot to look out for both at night and during the day.

The planet Saturn remains visible throughout the month sitting in the constellation, Virgo. It’s found just above and to the right of Spica (the Springtime star).

Also worth looking for is Arcturus – an orange giant star. Find it by using the ‘arc’ of The Plough to ‘arc’ around to Arcturus. Arcturus is the fourth brightest star in the night sky and the brightest of the constellation Boötes (the bear keeper).

Towards the end of the month, you might be able to see the red supergiant star Antares in the constellation of Scorpius, though it doesn’t rise far above the horizon.

Looking South at around 11.00pm on May 3rd, this is what you can expect to see given a nice, clear light-pollution free sky:

The night sky looking South on 3rd May 2011

Then, at 11.00pm on May 17th

The night sky looking South on 17th May 2011

The night sky looking South on 17th May 2011

And again at 11.00pm on May 31st.

The night sky looking South on 31st May 2011

The night sky looking South on 31st May 2011

To give you an idea of scale for some of the stars mentioned, this graphic shows a comparison between our Sun, Arcturus and Antares.

A comparison of size between the Sun, Arcturus and Antares.

A comparison of size between the Sun, Arcturus and Antares.

I love looking at clouds too and highly recommend The Cloud Collector’s Handbook
to record your observations!

About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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