In Our Skies, May 2022: Lunar Eclipse

by Shaphan Shank | May 1, 2022 | 0 comments

Meteor activity is divided quite unevenly between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with the Northern Hemisphere getting a better view of nearly every meteor shower of the year. The Eta Aquarid shower is the lone exception. This shower favors the south side of the equator, where the peak ZHR (zenith hourly rate) often reaches 40 or so. Meteor rates are a little lower in the Northern Hemisphere, but they are still plenty high enough to produce a nice display on the nights near the peak of the shower. This year, the Eta Aquarid shower will peak on the night of May 5–6, with the highest rates visible in the hours before dawn.

A total lunar eclipse will occur on the night of May 15–16. The entire eclipse will be visible from most of the Americas, although the eclipse will already be underway at moonrise for observers in western North America. The eclipse will be visible near moonset from western Europe and much of Africa. The partial eclipse will begin at 2:27 UTC on May 16, and totality will begin at 3:28 UTC. The total eclipse will last for approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes, ending at 4:54 UTC.

Mars and Jupiter will be getting closer together throughout May, and, on May 29, Mars will pass just 0.6° from Jupiter. (For comparison, the apparent diameter of the Moon is about 0.5°.) The pair of planets will be visible in the southeastern sky before dawn. A telescope at moderate magnification should show Mars and Jupiter in the same field of view, but the pair will also be attractive when viewed with binoculars or the unaided eye.

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