Casual Astronomy, Spaceflight News and Lower California Weather

Scorpion's Claws & Cat's Eyes ••••• Jupiter SSE before Sunrise ••••• Venus & Mars Low in the East at Dawn

By: LowerCal, 8:29 PM GMT on May 08, 2009

Today - SpaceWeather.com
also Earth & Sky | Tonight & 365 Days of Astronomy
This Week - SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance
also Jack Horkheimer - Star Gazer, Current Scripts
This Month - SkyandTelescope.com - Sky Tour Podcasts
also HubbleSite - Tonight's Sky: Your guide to constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and events
& International Year of Astronomy Monthly Discovery Guides

Visible Satellites:
Simplest - Satellite Flybys by SpaceweatherPhone.com
More satellites and more info - Heavens-Above.com

Launches - Spaceflight Now - Worldwide Launch Schedule
Reentries - Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies - Upcoming & Recent Reentries

All events described below can be viewed with your naked eye. Occasionally simple binoculars will improve the view and that will be noted. Scroll down for future dates, farther down for past dates.

Moon Near Antares

Image created with Stellarium.
June 6
After midnight the Moon can be seen near the star Antares, the heart of and the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. The Scorpion is one of the most recognizable constellations with his long curving tail. Antares is a reddish star close the the pathway of the planets and is sometimes a rival (Ant-) of the red planet Mars (-ares).

.... the entire constellation of Libra was considered to be claws of Scorpius (Chelae Scorpionis) in Ancient Greek times, with a set of scales held aloft by Astraea (represented by adjacent Virgo) being formed from these western-most stars during later Greek times. The division into Libra was formalised during Roman times.

The names of the two brightest stars in Libra are Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali - Arabic for "southern claw" and "northern claw".

.... two stars at the end of the scorpion's tail that appear very close together, are sometimes referred to as the Cat's Eyes.


○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: Moon Light in May by SunsetSailor Friday May 8, 2009
Exact at
June 7
1812 GMT
2:12pm EDT
11:12am PDT.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Moon Near Jupiter
Early Morning June 13
This morning the Moon is near the very bright planet Jupiter in the southeast.


Shuttle Endeavour Launch, Mission & Landing

Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Mission: STS-127
Spacecraft & Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour
Launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
June 13
1117 GMT
7:17am EDT (local time)
4:17am PDT.

Landing at Kennedy Space Center

Find (when published) landing options at NASA - Launch and Landing
and the landing paths (when published) at NASA - STS-127 Landing Ground Tracks.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

You can follow the progress of the Space Shuttle mission online at
Spaceflight Now | STS-127 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center
and NASA - Space Shuttle.

You can dig for more info at
Spaceflight Now - Index of /shuttle/sts127 and
CBS News Space Place - Space Shuttle Status Report.

Live online coverage of the mission will be on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.


◑ Last (or Third) Quarter Moon

Exact at
June 15
2215 GMT
6:15pm EDT
3:15pm PDT.

Rises near midnight and sets near noon. Morning crescent moons for a week after. Each one thinner and closer to the horizon.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Cape Canaveral Atlas V Launch

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
Missions: LRO & LCROSS
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 401
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
June 17
1951, 2001 or 2011 GMT
3:51, 4:01 or 4:11pm EDT
12:51, 1:01 or 1:11pm PDT.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule
with more details on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Mission Status Center
as the launch approaches.

You can find more information on the launch at United Launch Alliance.

Live online coverage of the launch will be on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.


Summaries of Sky Events for the Year
2009
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Eclipses in 2009
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Meteor Showers in 2009


***** Past Dates *****

○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: Full Moon by Ralfo Wednesday April 8, 2009
Exact at
May 9
0401 GMT
12:01am EDT
May 8
9:01pm PDT.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Moon Near Antares

Image created with Stellarium.
Early Morning May 10


Image created with Stellarium.
Early Morning May 11
After midnight the Moon can be seen near the star Antares, the heart of and the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. The Scorpion is one of the most recognizable constellations with his long curving tail. Antares is a reddish star close the the pathway of the planets and is sometimes a rival (Ant-) of the red planet Mars (-ares).


Shuttle Atlantis Launch, Mission & Landing

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
Mission: STS-125 (final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission)
Spacecraft & Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis
Launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
May 11
1801 GMT
2:01pm EDT (local time)
11:01am PDT.

Separation from Hubble Space Telescope
May 19
1326 GMT
9:26am EDT (local time)
6:26am PDT.

Landing at Kennedy Space Center
May 22
1541 GMT
11:41am EDT (local time)
8:41am PDT.
1401 GMT
10:01am EDT (local time)
7:01am PDT.

See comment 253.

Find later landing options at NASA - Launch and Landing
and the landing paths (when published) at NASA - STS-125 Landing Ground Tracks.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

You can follow the progress of the Space Shuttle mission online at
Spaceflight Now | STS-125 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center
and NASA - Space Shuttle.
There are links in the "WATCH NASA TV NOW" section of the NASA page where you can watch video (sometimes live).

You can dig for more info at
Spaceflight Now - Index of /shuttle/sts125 and
CBS News Space Place - STS-125 Status Report.

Live online coverage of the launch on NASA TV starts at 8:30am on launch day - see the NASA TV Schedule.


Launch of Herschel & Planck Space Telescopes

Image credit: Arianespace
Missions: Herschel & Planck
Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5 ECA
Launch from Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG), French Guiana
May 14
1312-1407 GMT
10:12-11:07 GFT (local time)
9:12-10:07am EDT
6:12-7:07am PDT.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

There will be a live launch webcast at Arianespace - VideoCorner.


◑ Last (or Third) Quarter Moon

Exact at
May 17
0726 GMT
3:26am EDT
12:26am PDT.

Rises near midnight and sets near noon. Morning crescent moons for a week after. Each one thinner and closer to the horizon.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Moon Near Jupiter
Before Sunrise May 17
This morning the Moon is near the very bright planet Jupiter in the southeast.


Virginia Minotaur I Launch

Mission: Tactical Satellite 3 (TacSat-3)
Launch Vehicle: Minotaur I
Launch from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wallops Island, Virginia
May 6
May 8
May 9
0000-0300 GMT
May 5
May 7
May 8
8:00-11:00pm EDT (local time)
5:00-8:00pm PDT.
TBD (To Be Determined)

May 19 2335 2355 - May 20 0330 GMT
May 19
7:35 7:55-11:30pm EDT (local time)
4:35 4:55-8:30pm PDT.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

More info is on the Twitter feed.

There will be a live Launch Webcast.


Venus & Mars and a Thin Crescent Moon

Image created with Stellarium.
Dawn May 21
A thin crescent moon will stand very close to the brilliant planet Venus low in the east at dawn. The reddish planet Mars will stand below them. Closer to sunrise you'll need binoculars to find Mars.


Dark Moon (a.k.a. astronomical new moon)

Exact at
May 24
1211 GMT
8:11am EDT
5:11am PDT.

Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


) Thinnest Evening Crescent Moon (the original meaning of "new moon")

WunderPhoto: One day old Moon by LaddObservatory Friday June 15, 2007
May 24 or 25
Low in the western sky soon after sunset.

May 24 it may be possible to spot an extremely thin new moon very low in the west from western North America with binoculars. Use Stellarium to find out exactly where in the sky to search from your particular location. You will need a very clear sky and horizon.

On May 25 a very thin new moon shouldn't be too difficult to spot from most of the Earth except for the SW Pacific.

For areas and dates of visibility see Moonsighting.com.


Launch of ISS Expedition 20 Crew

Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Mission: Expedition 20 to the International Space Station (ISS)
Spacecraft: Soyuz TMA-15
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz FG
Launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
May 27
3:34pm AQTT (Aqtobe Time, local time)
1034 GMT
6:34am EDT
3:34am PDT.

Docking with ISS
May 28
May 29
4:36pm MSD (Moscow Summer Time)
12:36pm GMT
8:36am EDT
5:36am PDT.

Updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

You can follow the progress of the mission at NASA - Expedition 20.

Live coverage of the launch and docking may will appear on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.


Moon Near Regulus

Image created with Stellarium.
May 29
This evening the Moon is near the star Regulus, the heart of and the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Regulus is the "dot" on a backward question mark pattern that marks the mane and chest of the Lion.


Moon Between Saturn & Regulus

Image created with Stellarium.
May 30
This evening the Moon has moved past Regulus and about halfway to the planet Saturn. Saturn is the farthest planet visible to the naked eye. It has an orbit of about 30 years and so moves very slowly against the background of stars. A year from now it will only be about hand's width farther from its current position near Regulus.

Regulus is the heart of and the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Regulus is the "dot" on a backward question mark pattern that marks the mane and chest of the Lion.


◐ First Quarter Moon

Exact at
May 31
0322 GMT
May 30
11:22pm EDT
8:22pm PDT.

Rises near noon and sets near midnight. Evening crescent moons for a week before. Each one thicker and higher above the horizon.

The gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Moon Near Spica

Image created with Stellarium.
June 2
This evening the Moon is near the star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. Spica is one of the bluest stars in the sky. If it doesn't seem blue to your naked eye try looking through binoculars and unfocusing them to make Spica appear as a disk instead of a point of light.

Spica is the spike of wheat in the Virgin's hand. A kite shaped pattern of four dimmer stars sits just to the southwest of Spica. The four stars define the constellation Corvus the Crow who sits ever watchful for a chance to grab the wheat.




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Updated: 5:54 PM GMT on June 04, 2009

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