Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
Eyes in the sky - May

Welcome to Ontario Parks’ “Eyes in the Skies” series. This space (see what we did there?) will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

While spring “technically” begins in March, most of us who live in cold climates tend to celebrate May as the true start of the season.

Here are our astronomical highlights for May 2023:

Sun

Having passed the spring equinox, the sun continues to rise (and set) farther north than east (and west). And, as usual, when the sun appears further north in the sky, that month’s full moon appears almost equally further south.

a round sun setting in the orange sky over a dark horizon

Sunrise and sunset times:

May 1 15 th of May May 30
Sunrise 6:12 a.m. 5:54 am 5:39 a.m.
One 13:23 13:22 13:23
Sunset 20:34 20:51 21:08

Moon

The moon has long captivated observers of all ages. The lunar phases of the moon in May occur as follows:

may lunar calendar

The planets

Venus continues to dominate the western sky during twilight and well into the night. As a result of its position in the eclipse and the late sunset, the planet reaches a near-record setting time (almost four hours after sunset) at 12:40 am!

venus and moon graphicsAfternoon of May 22, afternoon of May 23. Image generated by SkySafari Pro 6.0

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Keen observers can easily find Venus at night by looking for the moon on the nights of May 22 or 23 (see images below) and then using binoculars to find the planet; It should appear as a bright spot.

Once you find it with binoculars (and if the sky is free of fog or clouds), you should be able to see the planet with just your eye!

meteor showers

From the night of May 5 until the morning of May 6 you can enjoy the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.

Although this meteor shower is not as famous or as prolific as the Perseids, Geminids or Quadrantids, it can be very pleasant to observe, especially in the early hours of dawn.

Because this year’s shower falls near the full moon, only some of the brightest meteors will be visible.

On any given night, in the dark skies of provincial parks, it is possible to see five to ten meteors per hour, especially after midnight!

Featured constellations

In this month’s featured constellations, we will first discuss two Anishinaabek constellations that are prominent this time of year: faint (the sweat lodge) and Noondeshin Bemaadizid (the exhausted bather).

We will then discuss traditional Western constellations.

faint (the sweat lodge) and Black people

faint It appears among the same stars as the Greek constellation of Corona Borealis and is of great importance to many indigenous peoples.

For a detailed description of these constellations as well as their importance, see the full article here.

constellation chart

Boötes the shepherd, Virgo the maiden and Libra the scales

In last month’s post, we featured Ursa Major, Ursa Major (Ursa Major) and Ursa Minor, Ursa Minor (Ursa Minor).

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In this month’s edition we will talk about the ideal constellations to observe the warm weather: Boötes the shepherd, Virgo the maiden and Libra the scales.

constellations

Find more information about this month’s constellations.

This completes our review of May skies!