Hey, Sky Fans!
How’s things? I hope you’ve been well. Around here, we’ve had some ups and downs, just like everyone, and a couple cases of covid, but we’re getting through. It’s really amazing now to see that we’re back at this point of the year again. The leaves are back on the trees, the pollen is starting to lean back a little, and, April’s already over. Another third of a trip around the block, poof.
So, that brings us to… the Moon’s Primary Phases for May 2021!
The last time we checked in with this, it was the full Moon on April 26, so let’s start the story there. What not?
- Last Quarter / Third Quarter: May 3
- New Moon: May 11
- First Quarter: May 19
- Full Moon: May 26
All of these dates are timed well to be right for UTC, much of Europe, a bit of Asia, most of Africa, as well as the Americas. Check your local listings, though.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve missed out on some cool things the Moon was doing, so I’m determined to do a better job this time around. I hope I didn’t ruin your plans too much, “Oh, Scott? That clown…”
First, check out the date of that last quarter. It’s May 3. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen that date creep forward a little each month, because our calendar months are longer than the Moon’s lunations — its phase-to-same-phase month. What’ll happen in June and July? The suspense is killing me, too.
We start the month with the Moon in its waning phases; third quarter on the 3rd. If you’re out late on the 4th, that’s the next night if you’re keeping score at home, look for it near ol’ Joops and Saturn, still dancing along in the early morning skies.
Mercury is back in the evening skies this month, in the western twilight. Lots of us have never seen the “There’s Water… there?!” one. It’s often really though because it’s so small, so far, so close to the Sun, and so speedy. So, It never gets more than a couple of fists-held-at-arm’s-length away from the Sun. As the Moon comes out from new, you might be able to catch it it near a thin crescent moon on the 12th. This is a good time to look for some earthshine, too. That’s sunlight that bounced off Earth, made its way to the Moon and then bounced back to your eye. It takes a little patience, but once your eyes adjust to the twilight, you should be able to pick out a spot there that’s a little brighter than the sky around it. There’s ol’ Hermes, ready for you to check off your list.
Venus is back in the evenings, too, brighter than its inner cousin but lower toward the horizon.
Mars is still out there, too, but sinking into the dusk. So, it’ll be fun to watch the Moon glide between the two M&Ms over those next couple of days as the Moon moves toward first quarter.
With the sunsets getting longer, I don’t know how easy to see these three will be, but that’s part of the fun of this kind of astronomy, isn’t it?
We also have another of one of them there supermoons this month, if that’s something you like to keep track of. According to Bob, “The Moon is full on the 26th at 7:15am, just nine and a half hours after the Moon is closest to Earth at 222,117 miles away.” That’s about 17,000 miles closer than average; about 7.6 percent. Closer things look bigger and brighter, but… it’s really not that much, especially when you consider it’s 7.6 percent seen from 222,117 miles away. It’s good to look for the Moon, but, come on, why wait for this fancy Moon or that? The Moon’s spectacular every night.
In truth, though, this full Moon also happens to be a lunar eclipse, visible in full in parts of Australia, New Zealand, southeast Asia and out over the open Pacific. In other parts of Asia (at Moonrise) and in the Americas (at Moonset), it’ll be visible to one degree or another, too. Interesting thing about this one is, while it is a total eclipse, the Moon will pass just within the edge of the umbra, the dark part of the shadow. So, it’s a short trip through. Totality will last only about 15 minutes. For comparison, the totality of the September 2015 lunar eclipse, lasted over an hour.
I think that about covers it for this month. Did I miss anything this time? Let me know down below.
I hope things are well with you. Have a great weekend, thanks for stopping by, and clear skies, everyone!