What’s up in the night sky for May

This month Venus and Mercury grace the west-northwest sky over Bear Mountain an hour past sunset

This month Venus and Mercury grace the west-northwest sky over Bear Mountain an hour past sunset. Elusive Mercury will be visible a little less than 10 degrees above the horizon early in the month – also at the end of the Salish Walk of the Planets over Bear Mountain.  You can measure 10 degrees by holding your outstretched clenched fist against the sky.  Bright Venus is easy to see another 20 degrees above Mercury.

The giant planets Jupiter and Saturn rule the sky this month. Here’s where and when to look.

Jupiter, the largest and brightest of our solar system’s planets has been visible for many months. If you haven’t looked at Jupiter through a telescope, you’re in for a real treat. Look west-northwest again towards Bear Mountain and you’ll find Jupiter to the upper left of bright Venus.  From May 20-24 the moon passes from right to left below and between these two giants.

You’ll get great views of Jupiter’s colourful cloud bands and its four largest moons, discovered over 400 years ago by Galileo. You can see both the cloud bands and the moons using most binoculars and telescopes of any size.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which launched Aug. 11, 2011, has travelled over one and a half billion miles, and has another 200 million miles to go before entering Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016.

Next up, Saturn, finally visible in the night skies before midnight.

Saturn reaches opposition on May 22 – when the planet is visible all night long. It rises at sunset in the southeast over Bellingham and sets at dawn in the northwest over Bear Mountain. This year, the majestic rings are open – which means they’re tilted toward Earth  — more than 24 degrees compared to the edgewise view we had in 2009.

At this angle, the rings reflect more light toward Earth and increase the brightness of Saturn.  Through a telescope, you may be able to see colour differences and faint bands the colour of cream and butterscotch.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn since 2004, has four close encounters with Titan, two with Dione, and three with the geyser-spewing moon Enceladus this year. We are all excited about the “Search for Life” missions to Enceladus and Titan over the next few years.

And as part of the planning for the “Search for Life”, in 2016 and 2017 Cassini will fly up and over the north and south poles of Saturn and dive in between the innermost of the planet’s rings – the D ring – and the upper atmosphere of Saturn itself.

Jane Houston-Jones asks me to remind her Oak Bay followers that you can learn all about the Cassini mission at Saturn.nasa.gov. And you can learn about all of NASA’s missions, including Juno, at www.nasa.gov.

Dark skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

 

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up In May 2015” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News.  Bill Smith is a volunteer at Cattle Point Dark Sky Urban Star Park.

 

 

Just Posted

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

(Black Press Media file photo)
Copper piping missing, as suspect found with tools in Oak Bay commercial block

Police briefs include missing dinghy, speed stop turned impaired, wallet swiped from unlocked car

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Saturday announced a COVID-19 exposure at Oak Bay High School. (Black Press Media File).
Oak Bay High School subject of COVID-19 exposure

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) said possible exposure happened June 9-10

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read