Star By Night
ASTRONOMY

The month starts with the Moon in Waxing Crescent Phase

May is the last month of Spring and we are heading towards the longer, warmer nights of Summer. In April the island was graced with some rain and it was beautiful to see the wild flowers appearing along the country roads. In Nature everything is connected. The ancient civilizations would look to the sky and connect patterns in the stars, constellations, and then connect it to what was happening with the weather at that time. The Egyptians understood that when Sirius was visible in a certain part of the sky they were to prepare the crops for the rain that was coming. This knowledge was gained from many years observing the night sky and sharing what they saw with generation after generation. When we look up in the month of May we are observing the Winter constellation of Orion disappearing in the western sky and taking its place, rising in the eastern sky is the Summer constellation of Scorpio. The 13 Zodiacal constellations follow the Ecliptic Path, as the Sun, Moon and Planets do, and each Season of the Year we can observe the different forms of the Zodiac. The month starts with the Moon in Waxing Crescent Phase, only slightly illuminated and setting early in the night sky! A beauty to observe. Each night the Moon sets later, roughly 40mins later, and each night the Sun illuminates an increasing amount of the Moon, allowing us to observe craters and mountain ranges in incredible detail. By the time we reach the First Quarter we do start to lose some of the stars under the Moon’s bright glare. Luckily, the annual meteor shower, Eta Aquarids, is present all month and peaking on the 6/7th, so we can enjoy the shooting stars before the Moon increasingly dominates the night sky! This meteor shower is the result of dust particles left behind by comet Halley and has been observed since ancient times. It can be best appreciated from the Southern Hemisphere and because of our privileged position, being close to the equator, we can actually see a large part of that sky. Look towards the southern sky as that is where most activity is but they will be present in the northern sky too. The Full Moon rises on the 16th and there is a Total Lunar Eclipse. It is visible from Fuerteventura but you will need to be up early to appreciate it. The Eclipse starts at 0429 and finishes at 0553. As the Moon passes under the shadow of the Earth it will get darker and darker, eventually turning a rusty, red colour. The Moon will be setting on the West Coast so best views from that side of the island. From then on the Waning Gibbous Moon is rising later each night and each night becoming less and less illuminated by the Sun. Passing into the Third quarter and finally back to the New on the last day of the month. Clear skies to everyone and Keep Looking Up!