Hello! Happy May, hope spring quarter is treating you all well. A new month means more things happening in our skies.
In the first few days of the month, Jupiter and Saturn join the Moon to form a large triangle in the southeastern sky.
May 4-5 will see the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. This meteor show will continue to be active until the end of the month with a lesser volume of shooting stars to mark it.
On May 11 a Near-Earth Object at around 10:24 am PST give or take 12 minutes will pass by the Earth. This object will boast speeds of around 4,500 miles per hour and a size between 33 and 74 feet (10 and 23 meters) across. On that same day there will be a New Moon with the Moon at its orbital Apogee. According to NASA, because the Moon is at its farthest point in orbit some might call it a “micro-moon” since that would be the opposite of a “supermoon”. This New Moon also marks the start of the month in lunar calendars around the world.
Mercury and Mars will sit to the right and left of the crescent Moon on May 15 just above the northwestern horizon. When the Moon reaches half fullness on March 19 Venus will also join Mercury in the sky.
With the Moon at its closest point in orbit, or Perigee, on May 26 we will have our second full supermoon of the year. This month’s moon is called the Flower Moon. This is the season where flowers are blooming everywhere so it’s quite fitting. Some alternatives for the name this month would be either the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
During the month of April there was some new development with the rovers on Mars. About two months ago on February 18 the Perseverance rover landed in the Jezero Crater on Mars. Before Nasa sent the Perseverance on its way they attached the Ingenuity to it. Ingenuity is a small unmanned helicopter and technology demonstration that will fly on the surface of Mars. Ingenuity is only about 19 inches, with rotors about 4 feet long and overall weighs about 4 pounds. The only goal of Ingenuity is to test for the first time powered flight on a planet other than Earth and is basically just to demonstrate technology.
Ingenuity flew for the first time in a test flight on April 19 and since then there have been three additional test flights. On its first flight Ingenuity, flew up to a height of around 10 feet into the Martian air. After finishing four flights the so-called “tech demo” and the Ingenuity mission will move onto the next stage in its mission. The next stage will be an operations demonstration which was added to its mission itinerary after the Perseverance rover was found to be ahead of schedule and the helicopter remains in good condition. The operations demonstration will commence at the start of Ingenuity’s sixth flight. For more information about both Ingenuity and the Perseverance the website is here.
I’m not sure you are as interested as I am, but these demonstrations will spur the next stages of exploration on Mars. I hope midterms go well for everyone and that you have an amazing May. Until next month enjoy the sky and watch it safely.
Near Earth Objects – https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/
Perigee – https://moon.nasa.gov/diy-moon-orbit/
Here. – https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/