Maya del Mar's Daykeeper Journal: Astrology, Consciousness and Transformation
A penumbral lunar eclipse
In the Southern Hemisphere this month, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower


A full night sky

by Maya del Mar

In North America, the big news is the visibility of the occultation by the moon of the fixed star, Antares, on the night of May 23-24. In the southern hemisphere, the big news is the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, on the night of May 4-5, in the early morning hours.

The Eta Aquarid Shower is also visible in the northern hemisphere, but the radiant is very close to the horizon (east-southeast), and thus we never see more meteors than 10-20 per hour. In the southern hemisphere, where the radiant is high in the sky, there are maybe 60 meteors per hour.

This is one of the two annual meteor showers associated with Comet Halley. The other one is the Orionids in October. As it orbits around the sun, Halley’s nucleus ejects tons of dust particles. As these burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, when we hit Halley’s trail, we see them as streaks of light, which we call meteors. If the constellation Aquarius is the background for these trails, we call them Aquarids.

Look for the red giant, Antares, low in the southern sky in the early morning of May 24. Here are sample times for the occultation:

City Disappearance Reappearance
Boston 4:23 a.m. EDT not visible
Chicago 3:02 a.m. CDT 4:00 a.m. CDT
Denver 1:27 a.m. MDT 2:34 a.m. MDT
Los Angeles 11:56 p.m. PDT 1:16 a.m. PDT
Miami 4:23 a.m. EDT 5:37 a.m. EDT
New Orleans 3:01 a.m. CDT 4:17 a.m. CDT
San Francisco 11:50 p.m. PDT 1:06 a.m. PDT
Seattle 11:52 p.m. PDT 1:02 a.m. PDT
Tucson 12:11 a.m. MST 1:33 a.m. MST

The big gas giants, Saturn and Jupiter, are still visible in the night sky, but not for long. Saturn is slowly sinking into the West, along with Orion and friends. In the meantime, we can still spot it in the location which has been holding it for months—a spot just below and to the left of the Gemini Twins. On May 13, the waxing crescent moon lies just above it.

While Saturn is sinking, bright, bright Jupiter is rising high in the south. On the evening of May 19, we can see the gibbous moon very close to Jupiter. They are both fairly close to Virgo’s bright blue star, Spica, the Goddess of the Harvest. Observers in much of South America will see Moon occult Jupiter this night. This occultation is not visible in the U.S., but beginning in September, occultations of Spica are visible once a month through the rest of the year—just during the time of Mars retrograde.

Reddish Mars rises in the east about 4:00 a.m., in the constellation of Aquarius, in the neighborhood of the Aquarid Meteor Shower on May 5. Mars will be in the morning sky through the summer.

Venus and Mercury are both too close to the horizon to be easily visible.