Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Friday, May 1, 2015

May stargazing

Time is relative, relatively speaking.   

The Messenger spacecraft snapped this final image of Mercury on April 30, not long before it slammed into the planet's surface, ending four years of orbital operations. Messenger's mission ended because the craft had exhausted its fuel supply. [NASA/JHUAPL/Carnegie Institution of Washington]

Stargazing Summary

May’s evening skies are soft and subdued. Leo leaps high across the sky, with the twins of Gemini sinking in the west, along with the nearby brilliant star Capella. Equally brilliant Arcturus climbs high overhead. The planets make up for some of the faintness of the stars, though. Venus, the Evening Star, is well up in the west, climbing toward Gemini’s twins. The next-brightest dot in the night sky, the planet Jupiter, is higher in the sky. And though it’s not as brilliant as its sibling worlds, giant Saturn puts in its best showing of the year, sparkling all night.

More stargazing information »

Radio Program Highlights

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May 4-10: Neighbors. One of our nearest stellar neighbors is streaking across the sky like a runaway freight train, and we’ll have details. We’ll also talk about a neighbor that was once a lot closer. Join us for our stellar neighbors and more.

May 11-17: The Strongman. Hercules is in view all night right now. We’ll have details on how the strongman and other constellations were passed down to us, and we’ll talk about two giant star clusters inside Hercules’s borders.

May 18-24: Golden Giant. The giant planet Saturn is at its best this week, and we’ll tell you why. We’ll also talk about another ringed planet that puts Saturn to shame. Join us for Saturn, plus a planet with a lengthening day and much more.

May 25-31: False Alarm. 50 years ago, Soviet astronomers announced they’d found radio signals from an advanced civilization. Join us for details on this false alarm, plus details on our nearest stellar neighbors and much more.

Program schedule »

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This Month in StarDate Magazine

Our Summer Reading Issue is coming your way in May. Well recommend new books in astronomy and space science, and bring you feature-length excerpts from some of our favorites. And of course, well bring you tips to start your summer stargazing.

Subscribe today

News from the Observatory

McDonald Observatorys Andrew Mann Wins Prestigious Hubble Fellowship
Astronomer Andrew Mann of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a Hubble Fellowship from NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, science center for the Hubble Space Telescope. Mann studies planets outside our solar system, including both their demographics (how often they occur and around what types of stars) and their fundamental properties like size, chemical content, and more. He plans to use his fellowship to continue this work at McDonald Observatory.

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