Skylights will next appear on Friday, June 9. Thank you for your
During this extended three-week period, the Moon goes through three-fourths of its
monthly rounds. It begins at last
quarter the night of Friday, May 19, then goes into its waning crescent phase to new on
Friday the 26th, to the waxing
crescent, to first
quarter on Saturday, June 3, and finally in the waxing
gibbous ends our period just short of full.
Watch for the slim growing crescent in the west-northwest during
twilight the night of Sunday the 28th. On Monday the 22nd, the
Moon goes through perigee,
where it is closest to
Earth, while on Saturday, June 3, it goes through apogee, when
it is 11 percent farther away.
Many are the passages. On Sunday the 21st, the Moon
not just passes
Uranus, but occults it, though only as seen from southern
Antarctica. Then during the waxing crescent's climb out of
western twilight, the Moon will barge through central Gemini the night of Monday the
29th. The following evening, watch for it to the left of Castor and Pollux, when it lies on a line
between these two and Mars.
up and to the left, the quintet will make quite the fine sight. As
the month ends, on Wednesday May 31, the Moon will pass just above
the ringed planet, which still moves slowly through Cancer near the Beehive Cluster (see the photo of
the week). Then into June: the night of Wednesday the 7th, the
Moon will lie between Spica and
while the following night sees the Moon climbing upward to the east
of the giant planet.
The evening sky is now filled with planets. During early June, Mercury climbs
out of sunlight and into western dusk as it prepares for a pretty
good appearance. Though fading, Mars
lingers in the west after sundown as it slowly advances from
Gemini to Cancer and toward
Saturn (the two coming into conjunction on June 17). As June
begins, they set within half an hour of each other just before
midnight Daylight Time. It's really Jupiter that dominates the
scene, however. In
near the Libra-Virgo border, the planet crosses the
meridian to the south around 11 PM and
does not set until mid-dawn, at which point
Venus, gleaming unmistakably, takes over in the east. Finally,
Neptune sneaks in, the distant planet going into retrograde on
Monday, May 22.
May into June is "Dipper Time," as the Big Dipper of Ursa
Major, the Greater Bear,
circles nearly overhead in mid-evening. At the same time, the
Little Dipper of Ursa Minor climbs
upward as well to the east of Polaris, the nearly-unmoving North Star. Between the two lies
the tail of Draco, the Dragon.
Spread out south of the Dipper, look for the three star-pairs that
make the ancient Arabs' "leaps of the Gazelle." West of the
Dipper's bowl are the dim stars of Lynx, the Lynx. If you are far enough north with a
clear northern horizon, look for the "W" of Cassiopeia below the pole nearly opposite the Dipper.
Look then to the northeast to see white Vega of Lyra climbing the sky to be followed later in the night
by Deneb of Cygnus, the Swan.