Astronomical highlights for the week

Weather

Highlights

  • Mon May 4: pun alert Happy Star Wars Day! May the “fourth” be with you.
  • Tue May 5: the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower peaks Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning fed by debris left by Haley’s Comet. This particular shower has a broad maximum so meteors may be visible early this week. The waxing gibbous moon will make seeing faint meteors difficult however. Best viewing will when the Moon is low in the sky but before dawn between about 4:30 and 5:30 am local. This shower is generally not particularly bright. Worth mentioning, not worth hyping.
  • Thu May 7: the final supermoon of 2020, the last of 4 consecutive supermoons. Why do they tend to happen in groups of fours? This article explains
    • 4 supermoons during 2020: 02/09, 03/09, 04/07, 05/07
    • 4 supermoons during 2021: 03/28, 04/26, 05/26, 06/24
  • Thu May 7, 7:30am EDT: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is expected to launch the seventh batch of Starlink broadband network satellites
  • Thu May 7: the Eta Lyrid Meteor Shower peaks Thursday evening into Friday morning, fed by debris left by comet 1861 G1 Thatcher which last passed by in 1861. This particular shower has a broad maximum so meteors may be visible early this week. Only 10-20 meteors under the BEST conditions but the nearly full moon will make even that very difficult. Not even worth mentioning to audiences, but could be an explanation for any meteor activity appearing to emanate from the general area of the constellation Lyra.
  • Fri May 8: Mercury begins emerging from behind the sun
  • Looking ahead to next week: Jupiter and Saturn will line up with the waning gibbous moon before it move under Mars later in the week.
  • Thu May 07 06:45:11: full Flower moon
  • Thu May 14 10:02:40: last quarter moon

Upcoming Launches

·  Thu, May 21 02:30 AM JST (17:30 UTC) JAXA plans the launch of HTV-9 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan

·  Wed, May 27 04:32 PM EDT (20:32 UTC) SpaceX plans the launch of Crew Dragon Demo-2 (DM-2) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida

On This Day

  • May 3, 1986: lightning struck the Delta rocket carrying GOES-G shortly after liftoff,
  • May 6, 1975: NASA announces that Canada will build the Shuttle robot arm
  • May 8, 2003: Hayabusa launched, first mission to retrieve a sample from an asteroid

In case you missed it

Another supermoon

The last supermoon of 2020 rises Thursday evening. The next supermoon will be in March 2021.

Near Earth Objects (NEO)

lunar distance (LD) is the mean distance to the moon ~239k miles. Anything within 1 LD is newsworthy. For more information see NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies

This week

objectclose approach dateuncertaintyLDmillion
miles
2020 HN52020-05-03 02:21Z< 1 sec9.6~2.55
2020 JB2020-05-03 02:55Z~1 hour15.2~4
2020 HL12020-05-03 11:59Z< 1 sec12.6~3
2020 JA2020-05-03 20:01Z< 1 sec0.6148,423+ miles
2020 GE32020-05-04 04:32Z~1 hour19.0~5
2020 HQ32020-05-04 07:13Z< 1 sec10.8~3
2020 HU92020-05-04 12:51Z< 1 sec16.7~4
2020 HV42020-05-04 22:25Z< 1 sec18.2~4.55
2020 HS92020-05-05 07:33Z< 1 sec4.61+
2020 HR82020-05-05 10:01Z< 1 sec9.02+
2020 HZ62020-05-05 10:32Z< 1 sec10.2~2.55
2020 HL2020-05-05 15:24Z~1 hour16.7~4
2020 HF72020-05-05 17:05Z< 1 sec9.32+
2020 HL62020-05-06 17:38Z< 1 sec2.1~0.55
4389082020-05-07 12:18Z< 1 sec8.82+
2020 HM42020-05-07 16:07Z~1 hour10.7~3
2016 HP62020-05-07 21:49Z< 1 sec4.3~1
2020 HB62020-05-08 21:52Z< 1 sec9.8~2.55
2020 HC62020-05-09 10:55Z~1 hour2.9~1
3889452020-05-10 14:17Z< 1 sec7.3~2
2000 KA2020-05-12 11:20Z< 1 sec8.82+
2020 HS62020-05-14 13:51Z~4.55 hours15.7<4
4787842020-05-15 13:56Z< 1 sec8.5~2
2020 HA92020-05-15 22:59Z~1.55 hours18.2~4.55

Closest

withinobjectclose approach dateuncertaintylunar distancesmillion
miles
~14 days2020 JA2020-05-03 20:01Z< 1 sec0.6148,423+ miles
~1 year2011 ES42020-09-01 16:12Z~8 days0.3~75,371.55 miles
~100 years2010 RF122095-09-06 00:05Z3+ hours0.1~18,677.55 miles

Planet visibility

body (phase)risetransit (alt)setconstellation
Mercury (98%)06:13:4813:23:26 (68°)20:34:50Aries
Venus (19%)07:40:2215:29:56 (77°)23:22:30Taurus
Moon (99%)20:45:0301:01:26 (36°)06:25:14Libra
Mars02:54:4108:06:24 (35°)13:18:29Capricornus
Saturn01:36:5506:27:41 (30°)11:18:28Capricornus
Jupiter01:21:1006:07:48 (29°)10:54:26Sagittarius

Sample rise/set times for 05/07/20

Satellite Passes

This information is best used to identify passes worth sharing or skipping. Those nearest overhead are closest, brightest, and longest. Check dates and times for each pass before sharing.

International Space Station (ISS)

  • below trees pass begins Mon 2020-05-04 04:47:41 EDT from the WNW (303°) reaches 17°, lasts 4 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Tue 2020-05-05 05:38:12 EDT from the NNW (333°) reaches 12°, lasts 3 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Wed 2020-05-06 04:50:02 EDT from the NW (326°) reaches 13°, lasts 3 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Fri 2020-05-08 04:51:50 EDT from the NNW (336°) reaches 13°, lasts 3 minutes
  • below trees pass begins Sun 2020-05-10 04:52:56 EDT from the NNW (333°) reaches 16°, lasts 4 minutes
  • poor pass begins Tue 2020-05-12 04:53:50 EDT from the NW (325°) reaches 26°, lasts 5 minutes

Atmospheric drag and other factors can and do cause orbits to change. See the European Space Agency supported Heavens Above for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of the pass. Higher altitude passes are closer to the observer and generally brighter as a result. Satellites other than ISS are much more difficult to spot.

Moon Phases

datephase
Thu 2020-05-07 06:45:11full
Thu 2020-05-14 10:02:40last quarter
Fri 2020-05-22 13:38:49new
Fri 2020-05-29 23:29:52first quarter

Sun

Sunrise/set

DateRiseSolar noon (alt)Setsunlight
Thu 2020-05-0706:0513:10 (66.60°)20:1614 hrs 11 min
Fri 2020-05-0806:0413:10 (66.87°)20:1714 hrs 13 min
Sat 2020-05-0906:0313:10 (67.13°)20:1814 hrs 15 min
Sun 2020-05-1006:0213:10 (67.39°)20:1914 hrs 17 min
Mon 2020-05-1106:0113:10 (67.64°)20:2014 hrs 19 min
Tue 2020-05-1206:0013:10 (67.89°)20:2114 hrs 21 min
Wed 2020-05-1305:5913:10 (68.14°)20:2214 hrs 23 min
Thu 2020-05-1405:5813:10 (68.38°)20:2314 hrs 25 min
Fri 2020-05-1505:5713:10 (68.61°)20:2414 hrs 27 min
Sat 2020-05-1605:5613:10 (68.84°)20:2514 hrs 28 min
  • gained 0:17:56.786395 (hh:mm:ss) of daylight over this period
  • daylight (HH:MM): 14:19
  • mean: sunrise 06:01 sunset 20:21
  • max: sun angle 68.84°

Twilight

dateriseset
Thu 2020-05-0704:1522:04
Fri 2020-05-0804:1322:06
Sat 2020-05-0904:1122:07
Sun 2020-05-1004:1022:09
Mon 2020-05-1104:0822:10
Tue 2020-05-1204:0722:12
Wed 2020-05-1304:0522:14
Thu 2020-05-1404:0422:15
Fri 2020-05-1504:0222:17
Sat 2020-05-1604:0122:18

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