Astronomical Events for May 2007


As we near summer season, the nights become quite pleasant for stargazing. Although there are not many extraordinary events in May, we can enjoy looking at a yet another planet - Jupiter.

O Evening sky for May 2007
Evening sky for the middle of May 2007. at 10:00 PM. The map is valid for northern hemisphere, especially positions near 45 degrees latitude.

Since the start of spring, Sun has continued it's path north of equator. Thus the days are longer and warmer, but astronomical observations begin a bit later then before.

This month there are no special astronomical events. We can rehearse spring constellations described last month, or watch Venus and Saturn planets, which decorate the celestial sphere for almost six months. For a change on planet front, we can gaze at yet another planet... Planet Jupiter will start to rise on the eastern horizon around 10:00 PM, in the middle of the month.

O Jupiter image
Jupiter image made with XPlanet program
Jupiter is know for it's brown-white belts, and it's Great Red Spot. The "spot" is in fact a storm so big that we could put whole Earth inside it. From what we know, it's raging on for at least 400 years.

This biggest planet of our system can be easily watched with binoculars. Although you will not see much details with such low magnification, you can still resolve it's biggest satellites: Io, Europe, Ganymed and Callisto. If you watch them few hours apart, you can even notice how they revolve around Jupiter.

From historical perspective, it was these four satellites that had major role in history of physics and astronomy. When Galileo Galilei noticed that four dots are revolving around Jupiter, he noted that something is wrong with geocentric system, in which everything should revolve around Earth. About seventy years later danish astronomer Ole Rømer, used appearance anomaly of satellite Io to calculate the speed of light.

Moon phases for May 2007 are:

  • Full Moon - May 2. 10:09 UT
  • Last Quarter - May 10. 04:27 UT
  • New Moon - May 16. 19:27 UT
  • First Quarter - May 23. 21:03 UT