Looking Up Redux – May 2019


Temecula Valley Astronomers is a group of southwest Riverside County enthusiasts dedicated to sparking interest in amateur astronomy and supporting efforts related to all things cosmological through meetings and presentations, star parties, mentoring school clubs, special events and other community outreach efforts. More detailed information is available in the TVA newsletter available at www.temeculavalleyastronomers.com.

The following information was compiled from these sources: www.SeaSky.org, www.Wikipedia.com, www.in-the-sky.org, The American Meteor Society Ltd., www.cometwatch.co.uk, www.NASA.gov, TVA app (2.0.1296), FullAndNewMoon app (2.0), Starry Night Pro Plus 7 (, SkySafari 6 Pro (6.1.1), Stellarium (0.18.2) and www.timeanddate.com/astronomy.

All times are local.

Moon phases for May are Saturday, May 4, at 3:46 p.m. the new moon is in Cetus, Saturday, May 11, at 6:13 p.m. the first quarter is in Leo, Saturday, May 18, at 2:12 p.m. the full moon is in Libra and Sunday, May 26, at 9:34 a.m. the third quarter moon is in Aquarius. The apogee comes May 26 at 6:28 a.m. at 404 133 km (251, 117 mi), and the perigee comes May 13 at 2:54 p.m. at 369 015 km (229, 296 mi).

The year 2019 has 13 new moons, 12 first quarter moons, 12 full moons, 12 third quarter moons, no blue moons and one black moon.

Luna is new May 4, and in its third quarter May 26.

Highlights are distilled from www.SeaSky.org and Clark’s planetary Orrery program.

The new moon is May 4 in the evening. It is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

the Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower can be seen May 6-7 in the late night and early morning. The above average shower is capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak.

The full moon, blue moon is May 18 in the evening. The moon will be located on the opposite side of the earth as the sun and its face will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 21:11 UTC. The full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because it was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

Compiler’s Note: There are a lot of definitions for a “Blue Moon.” Some believe that a Blue Moon is the fourth full moon in a season, such as if a fourth full moon happens in spring, summer, autumn or winter that is a “Blue” moon and only that definition is correct. Others believe that a second full moon in a month constitutes the definition of a “Blue” moon. If someone believes in the “seasons” definition, then this moon is the “Blue” Moon. If not then the next blue moon isn’t until Halloween 2020.

The planetary positions for May 2019 are from TVA app iOS version.

Mercury is an early morning object on the first of the month. Venus is the Morning Star. Get up predawn to see Venus. Mars is still visible this month setting between 10:45 p.m. and 11:08 p.m. Jupiter is back in the evening sky rising between 8: 32 p.m. and 11:43 p.m. Saturn is trailing Jove rising between 10:34 p.m. and 12:39 a.m. Uranus will become visible very early in the morning by mid-month. Neptune is visible by the end of the month in scopes larger than 8-inches. Pluto is back as a morning object, rising at 10:48 p.m. and 12:51 a.m. by month’s end.

For asteroids, consult the local planetarium software or try www.asteroidsnear.com/year?year=2019.

The Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower is expected to peak low on the eastern horizon near the Water Jar May 7 at 4 a.m. Find some place dark to see it.

It promises to be a disappointing year for comet enthusiasts.

Keep looking up.