ASOtitle

MAY 2017 SKY EVENTS CALENDAR

The ASO Monthly Calendar of Events and Astronomical Data
Calendar is based on the "Space Calendar" data presented by the
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/calendar/ and the Arkansas Sky Observatories  www.arksky.org Team.
If you would like for us to include your star parties or events, please send details via the CONTACT US button on the home page of ASO.



The Planets for MAY:
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Mercury - Mercury reaches its "greatest eastern elongation" (see Calendar below) on the first of April and is located about as high in western skies over the horizon as you will see it, yet still embedded in strong twilight.  If you are able to pick it up in a telescope, it will appear to be a thin "crescent" phase since it is only 28% illuminated as we see it from Earth - in PISCES

Venus - our brightest planet will rise about an hour ahead of strong twilight at mid-month, but will continue moving slowly westward in the sky each morning and will attain a higher altitude against the eastern horizon as our "morning star" by month's end.  Telescopically this is an excellent time to look at Venus, as it presents a large "crescent phase, appearing much like a crescent moon even in the smallest telescope. - in PISCES.

Mars - Mars is very low in west and now distant....not a good telescopic object, and sets about 10 p.m. local time; although its reddish color and brightness (mag. 1.5) are obvious and allow for easy location of this red planet, it is not worth observing this month, with an angular diameter of less than 4" arc and at a great distance from Earth.  - in TAURUS

Jupiter - Now overhead around midnight and in the sky all night long, Jupiter rises in the east shortly before sunset, is nearly overhead at midnight and sets in the west about the time morning dawn breaks.  This is a very favorable time to view Jupiter since it is brightest and closest to Earth during March, April and May; Jupiter is only one month past opposition, so it is rising shortly before dark and will be in the sky nearly all night for viewing.   - in VIRGO

Saturn - The magnificent ringed planet will be high overhead for northern latitudes at about 3:30 a.m. local time and will be dominant as mighty Jupiter is setting in the west at this time.  This is a wonderful month to view the ring system.  On the 14th look for Saturn just to the right (west of) the nearly full moon.  Distant Pluto is a bit east of these two as well. - in SAGITTARIUS

Uranus - distant planet Uranus is rising very shortly before the sun at mid-month, being just barely in dark sky.  Look for Uranus VERY close to elusive little Mercury on the 15th at about dawn in eastern skies; bright VENUS will be higher that both of them.  Uranus will rise a bit early each morning as we approach summer.  - in PISCES

Neptune - Our most distant world other than of Pluto, is now rising about an hour before twilight in the east; at magnitude 7.8, it is visible in small telescopes as a star-like object with little or no detail visible - in AQUARIUS

Pluto - at magnitude 14.2, our most distant planet (yes....it is a planet) rises about midnight and is south of overhead by dawn, just east of the "teapot" in Sagittarius and east of brilliant yellow Saturn to its west.  - in SAGITTARIUS

NOTE:  for locating all of the faint planets I highly recommend a good computer planetarium program or a suitable Sky APP for your smart devices!

Comet Possibilities for May:
There are dozens of observable comets visible every month, in every part of the sky. 
For May there are only a few bright comets visible for modest telescopes.  However that can always change quickly, so check the "Alerts" section of ASO often. 

Comet c2015 V2 (Johnson) is high overhead at MILDNIGHT in the constellation of Bootes and perhaps can be NAKED EYE by midmonth, or at least close to that; with an expected long streaming south-facing tail, the comet should be no less than magnitude 6.8 (binocular easy) and have a large visible head.  More on this comet as May approaches.

Comet 45P (Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova)
is also very high  in LEO about 10:30 p.m. local time ; although predictions show it at magnitude 13 or so, it has been MUCH brighter and very active than expected, so get out and look for this one.  It will be high overhead at about 8:30 p.m. local time.

Also, Comet 41P (Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak)
is also active this year and may brighten beyond its predictions; at midmonth the comet is predicted to e magnitude 8.1, but it is likely to be brighter than that.

Comet 73P (Schwassmann-Wachmann) - our now "double comet" split into to large fragments in February and is now a double comet flying through space in tandem, the secondary part actually brighter by far than the primary cometary mass.  This is one to watch and always be looking for some dramatic changes in this odd target....low in southeastern skies and rising about 3:30 a.m. local time.  In the contellation of CETUS, this comet is projected to be at magnitude 11 at mid-month, but I suspect it will attain a much brighter magnitude than that.

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A moderate-sized telescope and CCD camera can easily record comets down to magnitude 18, of which there will be a good selection every night, provided that you know WHERE in the sky they are.  Thus a good PC planetarium program with your GO TO telescope or to plot visually is essential.  The comets can be updated in your programs daily by downloading the current data into your database from the Minor Planet Center (MPC) via the link:
http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/Ephemerides/SoftwareEls.html
This will allow access to all visible comets for any given date.

In addition, a listing of "Observable Comets" is available from MPC from the link:  http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/lists/LastCometObs.html
In the case of a new and exciting/bright comet that may unexpected enter our skies, ALWAYS refer to the ALERTS link on the ASO Home Page.
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Meteor Showers for May 2017

For May, there are three meteor showers, some of which provide for wonderful spring sky shows, provided that the light of the moon does not interfere.  However, as with all months and times during the year, observers should always be aware that new sporadic meteor showers can occur at anytime from seemingly unknown sources and radiants.  MAY is always an excellent time to go outside and view the heavens and the interloping meteors among them; typically in most locations, whether spring in the northern hemisphere or fall in the southern, the skies are crisp and clear. Most of May’s meteor showers occur early in the month.  NOTE that maximum meteor counts can ONLY be seen with the absence of the MOON in the sky....consult the daily calendar below for moon phases during May.

May 1 – PHI BOOTID METEORS - A really long term meteor shower that actually begins on or about April 16 and persists until May 12, emanating from the constellation of Bootes AND Hercules (the radiant has indeed moved in recent years!), high in the eastern sky at dark, and remain so for most of the night for northern latitudes.  The best time to observe the most of these meteors is always about 2 a.m. local time. About 6 meteors can be seen per hour, most medium bright, relative fast and pretty much overhead, all traced back to northwestern Hercules.

May 3 – ALPHA SCORPIID METEORS - The peak of this shower takes place during the week of this year’s new moon, so the faintest members of this meteor shower will be seen for several nights before and after the actual peak date.  The minor meteor shower is another long duration one, beginning in early April on the Libra-Scorpius border and slowly moving into the constellation of Ophiuchus by May 9!  The motion of this radiant is of much interest to astronomers and your detection of meteors from night to night as to where they appear to originate is very important; the radiant will rise in the far southeastern sky about 9 p.m. local time and be overhead at 1 p.m. the following morning.

May 5-6 – ETA AQUARID METEORS - Normally one of the finest meteor showers of each year, the Eta Aquarid meteors were recorded as early as 401 A.D. by the ancient Chinese stargazers.....now we know them to be part of TWO debris clouds left in the wake of famous HALLEY’s COMET through which the earth passes each year.  Meteors can be seen from this shower all the time from April 21 through May 12, but the peak is fairly steep and occurs each year on May 4.....look for brilliant and spectacularly exciting fireballs from May 9 through 11.   The radiant for this meteor shower is located very near the star asterism known as “The Water Jar” in Aquarius, but moves a bit northeast each day through the long period the meteoric cloud persists around the earth.  Note that this meteor shower for northern latitudes is very low in southern skies...most meteors should be seen coming from the EAST horizon (not overhead like most showers!) about 2 a.m......but by 7 a.m., note that the most frequent meteors appear to originate about halfway from that point to overhead.  On most dates with not-so-dark skies up to 10 Eta Aquarids per hour might be expected, most bright and leaving glowing “fireball” trails behind them.   Thus, most years are excellent in hopes of seeing these fine meteors, and the very faint as well as the many bright fireballs may be seen.
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May 2017 Sky Events Calendar

JUNE 2016 Sky Events Calendar

The ASO Monthly Calendar of Events and Astronomical Data


Calendar is based on the "Space Calendar" data presented by the
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/calendar/ and the Arkansas Sky Observatory  www.arksky.org Team.
If you would like for us to include your star parties or events, please send details via the CONTACT US button on the home page of ASO.

The Planets for June:
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Mercury - tiny but bright (-0.2 magnitude) shines in very early morning twilight at midmonth, high enough to see in relatively dark skies very low to the SE horizon about the start of twilight (5 a.m. local time) - in TAURUS

Venus - our brightest planet will not be favorably placed for viewing in June, too close to the sun. - in TAURUS

Mars - still at a large diameter (for Mars) at 18.1" arc across, the Red Planet dominates the skies around midnight, passing south of overhead just before midnight; it was at opposition last month and still very favorable for viewing throughout the night - in LIBRA

Jupiter - dominating the evening western skies is bright Jupiter, still large and favorable for viewing until it sets about midnight. - in LEO

Saturn - appearing as a very brilliant yellow star, Saturn is slightly east of MARS and nearly overhead for northern observers at midnight, close to ANTARES and other bright stars of the head of Scopius.  This is the prime time to be observing the ringed planet, with its rings tilted greatly toward earth - in SCORPIUS

Uranus - distant planet Uranus rises about 3 a.m. local time and shines at magnitude 5.9, bright enough to spot in good binoculars if one knows where to look; use a good planetarium sky program or GO TO telescope to locate this distant world; by sunrise it is high in eastern skies and will show a faint, blue disk in large telescopes - in PISCES

Neptune - look for faint Neptune in large telescopes at midmonth very, very close to the bright star Lambda Aquarii (mag. 3.7); it will be quite close to this star all month, thereby making it a bit easier to spot this distant world. - in AQUARIUS

Pluto - at magnitude 14.1, our most distant planet (yes....it is a planet) is very low in southern skies, south of overhead about 2:30 a.m. local time; only 12 inch and larger telescopes can spot this world visually. - in SAGITTARIUS

NOTE:  for locating all of the faint planets I highly recommend a good computer planetarium program or a suitalbe Sky APP for your smart devices!

Comet Possiblities for June:
There are dozens of observable comets visible every month, in every part of the sky.  A moderate-sized telescope and CCD camera can easily record comets down to magnitude 18, of which there will be a good selection every night, provided that you know WHERE in the sky they are.  Thus a good PC planetarium program with your GO TO telescope or to plot visually is essential.  The comets can be updated in yor programs daily by downloading the current data into your database from the Minor Planet Center (MPC) via the link:
http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/Ephemerides/SoftwareEls.html
This will allow access to all visible comets for any given date.

In addition, a listing of "Observable Comets" is availale from MPC from the link:  http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/lists/LastCometObs.html
In the case of a new and exciting/bright comet that may unexpectedly enter our skies, ALWAYS refer to the ALERTS link on the ASO Home Page.

For the latest observations, magnitudes and physical characteristics of most of the best comets, always look to the ASO Comet Database for accurate information:
http://www.arksky.org/comet-data

METEOR SHOWERS for June 2016:
 
Observe when the moon does not interfere and attempt to observe AFTER midnight for most meteors to be seen!  For June, there are no less than 13 (!!) meteor showers, some of which provide for wonderful spring sky shows, provided that the light of the moon does not interfere.  However, as with a months and times during the year, observers should always be aware that new sporadic meteor showers can occur at anytime from seemingly unknown sources and radiants.  Fortunately for June 2016, the full moon occurs on the 20th, which means that pretty much the first five of these showers are going to be impressive in terms of faint meteors.
 
June 3 - Tau Herculid Meteors - Beginning in late may and extending through June, this is a month-long minor meteor shower, overhead for mid-northern latitudes at about 10 a.m.; this will be a great month for observing these meteors, since the moon will be near new and absent from the sky all night;  the meteor shower is overhead at midnight when most of the 15 meteors per hours might be seen.  
 
June 4 - Alpha Circinid Meteors - This southern hemisphere meteor shower does produce some long-trailed meteors that can be seen low in northern hemisphere skies, traveling from south to north; it was discovered in 1977 by Australian amateur astronomers when 15 very swift meteors were noted per hour; for southern latitudes north of the equator, the meteor shower radiant is actually above the southern horizon at Midnight, so only the brightest meteors can be seen....this shower is in need of observation and continued confirmation.  Observe before moonrise about 11 p.m. local time; the moon will not hamper observations this year. .

June 5 - Scorpiid Meteors - A very interesting meteor shower with TWO radiants rather than just one as is typically found with annual meteor showers; both radiants are nearly on the meridian at midnight, so observers are suggested to put their feet to the south and look overhead for these meteors; about 3 a.m. local time (the moon will be strong in the sky all night this year!...); in dark skies observers should normally see at least 20 meteors per hour when the moon is absent.  Note that not only are the number of meteors impressive with this shower, but also the sky itself, since the meteors will be coming from near the summer Milky Way star clouds, revealing one of the richest star fields visible to the naked eye and camera.  Best to begin observations about 10 p.m. and continue until 3 a.m. local time; radiant average is at R.A. 16h 40m; DEC -17 degrees.   .

June 7 - Arietid Meteors - From the constellation of Aries, this is another month-long meteor shower, and can peak on this date with as many as 60 meteors per hour in dark skies. This has been confirmed by radar, but less than that number can be expected visually, perhaps up to 30.  Wait until about 3 a.m. local time to assure that the radiant (low on the eastern horizon) is high enough above local haze and moisture to reveal these meteors.  These are very fine, slow meteors which leave spectacular trains, and frequently split into Bolides, or "fireballs."  The fireballs should be easily seen in all areas of the sky, although the radiant is nearly overhead about the time of peak. This is a great year to attempt to observe these meteors since the moon is near new....... the fireballs can typically be seen in spite of bright moonlight.
 
June 7 - Zeta Perseid Meteors - On the same night as the Arietids, this meteor shower is less spectacular, with perhaps 15 per hour visible in ealiest pre-dawn skies; radar reveals as many as 40 per hour after sunrise.
 
June 8 - Librid Meteors - A very minor meteor shower from a very large constellation, expect only a few per hour; evidence suggests that this meteor cloud might be dissipating, and no known cometary source is associated with this minor display; observations are badly needed.  Coordinates of radiant:  R.A. 15h 09m; DEC -28 degrees.  The moon will not interfere with observations after it rises at midnight this year.
 
June 11 - Sagittariid Meteors - This is a two-week-long meteor shower beginning in earely June; fortunately in 2016, the quarter moon will will not be a factor in observing these meteors. The radiant rises in the extreme SE sky about 11 p.m. local time and about a dozen meteors per hour in dark skies might be expected.   VERY low in the southern skies for northern observers, at -35 degrees DEC.
 
June 13 - Theta Ophiuchid Meteors - Coming from the border of Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, and Scorpius, this radiant rises about 9 p.m., giving a window of good observing ALL NIGHT in spite of strong moonlight;  hence, onlt the brighter members of this showe will be seen this yearr.  However, those that do grace our skies are bright and spectacular, so be alert to these meteors if you are observing and happen upon a fireball from this area.
 
June 16 - June Lyrid Meteors - This is a companion meteor shower to the more-active May Lyrid meteors; this year will be an excellent year for the June Lyrids, since the moon will be gibbous and will interfere with this meteor shower.   The radiant is nearly directly overhead at midnight near the bright star Vega for mid-northern latitudes; since most of these meteors are very faint, observations will be poor this year with strong moonlight interfering.  This is but one of many meteor showers that have been discovered by amateur astronomers since 1960....this one has been seen every year since 1966.
 
June 20 - Ophiuchid Meteors - A poor year for this shower, since the moon is now nearly full and setting well before midnight land hours before dusk.  The radiant rises highest in the sky at 11:25 p.m. local time.  The radiant sets about sun-up, so few meteors should be seen throughout our skies throughout this year's "window"; this is an interesting meteor shower since the number per hour can vary from as few as 8 per hour to over 26 per hour on any given year.
 
June 26 - Corvid Meteors - Very poor prospects this year, since the  moon's light will be a strong gibbous and setting only a few hours before dawn.  This is one of the shortest duration of all meteor showers, lasting only 5 days at most, with perhaps 10 meteors per hour seen to any observer; these originate near the small constellation trapezoid of Corvus, the Crow and the last good showing was in 1937.  Astronomers speculate that these meteors are a product of some as-yet undiscovered comet.  Since it has been years since a good showing and since the source is unknown, this is a very important meteor shower for a group project.  Radiant: R.A. 12h 48m; DEC -19 degrees.
 
June 29 - Beta Taurid Meteors - Here is a different type of meteor shower....one you CAN'T see~!  This is a daylight meteor storm that is of interest to those with ham radios, or those with long-distance shortwave receivers tuned to a distant station toward the direction of the radiant (Taurus. R.A. 05h 44m; DEC +19 degrees); ham operators have recorded a dependable 30+ meteors per hour each year.  BUT.....at least the moon can't interfere with THIS one!
 
June 30 - June Draconid Meteors - This is a fair year for for observers this month in terms of sky position because moonlight will light the sky in early morning hours.   Known in the past as the "Pons-Winnecke Meteors" (from the comet of origin), this can be an incredibly spectacular meteor shower; in 1916 over 100 very bright meteors were seen in fireworks style, but it appears that the numbers may be waning as years progress.  Being irregular, observers are cautioned that there may be as few as 10 per hour or well over 100 per hour; with the high declinations (radiant:  R.A. 15h 12m, DEC +49 degrees), the shower will rise about the beginning of astronomical darkness and be in the sky all night long, highest just after midnight in high northern skies.  A fair year for this one.... but look for the brighter ones maybe high in northern skies!

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YOUR SKY CALENDAR FOR JUNE
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Wishing you clearest skies and brightest comets.....

Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatories
10 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Mt.
MPC/cbat Obs. H41 / Petit Jean Mountain
MPC/cbat Obs. H45 / Petit Jean Mountain South
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H44 / Cascade Mountain
MAY 2016
The ASO MONTHLY CALENDAR OF EVENTS  AND ASTRONOMICAL DATA
Note that recent discoveries and events of immediate importance are always posted
on the ASO Current News Forum!!
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Calendar is based on the "Space Calendar" data presented by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/calendar/
and the Arkansas Sky Observatory www.arksky.org Team
IMPORTANT SKY EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES OF INTEREST TO ASTRONOMERS, PROFESSIONAL AND AMATEUR, ARE PROVIDED BY ASO
NOTE:  Highlighted events are those that are of interest to observers with modest equipment, or are special events of interest to ALL astronomers!
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NOTE!! CLICK ON OBJECTS IN BLUE TO LINK WITH MORE ABOUT THIS EVENT!!!  

NOW is the time to Supercharge in time for our rich SUMMER SKIES
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The Solar System in MAY 2016 : (see also ASO Planet Patrol Image Archives for Daily Updates!)
NOTE:  Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all visible in evening hours this month, a very favorable and warm time to venture outdoors to catch up on our Solar System! .
Mercury - The tiny planet MERCURY is very close to the sun throughout May and is pretty much hidden by bright twilight in morning skies. In ARIES
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Venus - Positioned very close to Mercury, Venus is also hidden by solar glare throughout the month of May  - in ARIES.
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Mars - Here it comes!  Brilliant MARS reaches opposition on the 22nd of this month and will be high overhead at midnight for observers, rising in the east at sunset and visible all night long; already planetary imagers are obtaining fantastic high resolution shots of cloud cover over the Red Planet and it will only get better this month as Mars grows in size and decreases in distance. Do not miss this month for MARS!  Near midmonth watch as Mars moves slowly relative to the bright and dynamically-changing star Delta Scorpii  -  In SCORPIUS
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Jupiter -  The mightiest of planets, JUPITER now is in the evening sky, nearly overhead at the end of twilight and dominating the western sky until midnight.  Still very brilliant and yellow however, Jupiter dominates the evening skies but is already approaching the west horizon as evening twilight ends; the planet sets shortly after midnight. - In LEO.
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Saturn - Our ringed planet rises in the east at sunset, about 9 p.m. at midmonth; a very favorable year for this planetary favorite!  Saturn is overhead at midmonth about 2:00 a.m. local time and will be visible all night, very high overhead through the ecliptic for northern observers. -  in OPHIUCHUS
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Uranus -  The large, gaseous world of Uranus rises at about 5:00 a.m. local time and is high enough at dawn to view telescopically.... low in eastern skies as dawn breaks by mid-month; the planet is binocular magnitude at 5.9 and is nearly 4 arc seconds across. - in PISCES.
Neptune - Now a bit brighter than 8th magnitude and only a bit larger than 2.2 arc seconds across, this distant world rises at 2:30 a.m. local time far in the SE skies and is high in southeastern skies at sunrise. Nonetheless, its low SW position will make it a difficult object for northern observers. - in AQUARIUS.
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Pluto - Now rising high in the sky (south of overhead at the first "crack of dawn") in the  southern constellation Sagittarius, our most distant world, although no longer considered a "planet" will be favorably placed for telescopic discovery about dawn local time,  south of overhead for observers in mid-northern latitudes at about 4 a.m. local time - in SAGITTARIUS
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    note:  to locate the three outer planets, we recommend you use the charts from a good planetarium PC program! 
ALSO see the finder charts on line from  Sky & Telescope Magazine for yearly details and very nice tracking charts....visit:
www.SkyandTelescope.com/UranusNeptune
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Observable COMETS and the ASO Comet Patrol: 
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Note that the locations and predictions for brightness, tail, etc. of all comets can be found for nearly all major/popular PC planetarium programs from the Harvard/Minor Planet Center's excellent source at:
which is updated quite often with all new comets and refined orbits for those already known!  The following data is estimated for early MID-May, and will vary depending on time of night that you are observing.  Note that the following list of comets gives information for about mid-month and around midnight local time.  Remember that new comets are discovered every month and the details of very bright comets may change rapidly.  Currently there are NO naked eye comets forecast for May 2016.
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SOME INTERESTING COMETS:
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Comet 252P LINEAR - Although projected at magnitude 12, this comet has been spectacular and is running near naked eye through early April; as it attains higher altitude for northern observers, this comet will be very favorably placed for excellent viewing and CCD imaging throughout May.  In Ophiuchus and south of overhead about 3 a.m. local time
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OTHER COMETS VISIBLE:  There are many comets visible in May 2016 in the 13th through 17th magnitude range and easily viewed or captured via CCD in modest telescopes.  Observers should visit the Harvard/Minor Planet Center Observable Comets Page at:
http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/lists/CometLists.html where comets and their predicted activity are updated nearly daily.
For your individual PC program or telescope GO TO operation drives, you can download exact specifications formatted to YOUR PC protocol from the MPC at:
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The ASO MAY Star (actually FOUR of them!) of the Month: The Claws Of LIBRA 
Bright Stars of LIBRA 
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The only four brighter stars of Libra - alpha, beta, gamma and iota - form a small square shape in the sky, but at one time the star group was actually part of SCORPIUS (http://www.weasner.com/etx/ref_guides/scorpius.html ), forming the "claws" or front pinchers of this venomous arachnid. It was the Egyptian priest-astronomers who first isolated the larger Scorpius into two separate constellations, although the reasoning is NOT all that clear for doing so.
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There is speculation however as to the importance of this dull star group to these early people. It is theorized from much later hieroglypics from those of the great Pyramids that the pattern of obscure stars symbolized the EQUALITY of day and night.....exactly what happened at the spring and autumn equinox as the SUN entered this now-constellation some 2000 years ago. Presently, through precession of the Earth, the autumnal equinox - where the sun crosses the celestial equator at the beginning of autumn has "migrated" from Libra westward into Virgo (see my complete constellation study guide: http://www.weasner.com/etx/ref_guides/virgo.html ).
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In the year 2000 and beyond for our lifetimes, the sun goes through Libra in November, passing bright Antares (in Scorpius) in the first week in December as it approaches Winter Solstice.
Now - a lesson in changes of history, and how most things really make sense if you know all the facts. Remember the ZODIAC? The name is from the Latin as the "zone of animals," signifying the nature of the constellations that primarily the sun passed through to early stargazers. The ONLY constellation of the Zodiac that is NOT an "animal" is......LIBRA. Why? Because Libra has not always "been there..." It originally was part of the 6th "sign" of the Zodiac: Scorpius.
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This explanation as to the Egyptian importance of making this a separated entity in the sky ALSO explains very well why we envision a "scale" or "balance" of all things for this constellation. It seems somewhat out of place, doesn't it? Well, when you consider the importance of the fall equinox and the position of this constellation 2000 years ago as winter months approached....perhaps it quickly explains both the significance and labeling of this inconspicuous star pattern.
Although now a stand-alone ("isolated" is a good word for Libra) constellation of its own, Libra still has strong ties to its original affiliation with Scorpius through the original star names given to its brightest stars by the earliest Arabian skywatchers. We often overlook the beauty and creativity of their insight into the wonderful star names that we still preserve (thankfully) today. 
The principal stars (although very faint to the naked eye) all have some association with CLAWS of the dreaded Scorpion! "ZUBEN ....." referred to the appendages of this creature to the Arabian astronomers/astrologers. Thus, we have the brightest (alpha) star named ZUBEN EL GENUBI ("the Southern Claw"), beta being ZUBEN ESCHAMALI ("the Northern Claw"), ZUBEN EL AKRAB (gamma), ZUBEN EL AKRIBI (delta), and ZUBEN HAKRIABI (upsilon), as shown in the chart below.
Aren't these simply wonderful star names?
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METEOR SHOWERS:  Observe when the moon does not interfere and attempt to observe AFTER midnight for most meteors to be seen!  For May, there are three meteor showers, some of which provide for wonderful spring sky shows, provided that the light of the moon does not interfere.  However, as with all months and times during the year, observers should always be aware that new sporadic meteor showers can occur at anytime from seemingly unknown sources and radiants.  MAY is always an excellent time to go outside and view the heavens and the interloping meteors among them; typically in most locations, whether spring in the northern hemisphere or fall in the southern, the skies are crisp and clear.
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Most of May's meteor showers occur early in the month.... this is good year to enjoy the meteors that May offers since the moon will be first quarter early days of the month when these three meteor showers peak, thus setting aroud midnight or before, leaving the peak hours of the meteor showers in darkness!
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May 1 - Phi Bootid Meteors - A really long term meteor shower that actually begins on or about April 16 and persists until May 12, emanating from the constellation of Bootes AND Hercules (the radiant has indeed moved in recent years!), high in the eastern sky at dark, and remain so for most of the night for northern latitudes.  The best time to observe the most of these meteors is always about 2 a.m. local time...this year, the nearly new moon will be absent from the sky for the duration of the night, particularly at the mid-duration of this long shower, so observing a week before will provide for the longest period of observations, and thus the most meteors.   About 6 meteors can be seen per hour, most medium bright, relative fast and pretty much overhead, all traced back to northwestern Hercules.
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May 3 - Alpha Scorpiid Meteors - The peak of this shower takes place during the week of this year's new moon, so the faintest members of this meteor shower will be seen for several nights before and after the actual peak date.  The minor meteor shower is another long duration one, beginning in early April on the Libra-Scorpius border and slowly moving into the constellation of Ophiuchus by May 9!  The motion of this radiant is of much interest to astronomers and your detection of meteors from night to night as to where they appear to originate is very important; the radiant will rise in the far southeastern sky about 9 p.m. local time and be overhead at 1 p.m. the following morning....fortunately the nearly new moon will enhance this year's viewing during our warm spring evening skies.
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May 5-6 - Eta Aquarid Meteors - Normally one of the finest meteor showers of each year, the Eta Aquarid meteors were recorded as early as 401 A.D. by the ancient Chinese stargazers.....now we know them to be part of TWO debris clouds left in the wake of famous HALLEY's COMET through which the earth passes each year.  Meteors can be seen from this shower all the time from April 21 through May 12, but the peak is fairly steep and occurs each year on May 4.....look for brilliant and spectacularly exciting fireballs from May 9 through 11, all of which will be seen because the moon is absent from the sky and even the faint meteors will be seen in 2016.   The radiant for this meteor shower is located very near the star asterism known as "The Water Jar" in Aquarius, but moves a bit northeast each day through the long period the meteoric cloud persists around the earth.  Note that this meteor shower for northern latitudes is very low in southern skies...most meteors should be seen coming from the EAST horizon (not overhead like most showers!) about 2 a.m......but by 7 a.m., note that the most frequent meteors appear to originate about halfway from that point to overhead.  On most dates with not-so-dark skies such as we will have in 2015 up to 10 Eta Aquarids per hour might be expected, most bright and leaving glowing "fireball" trails behind them.   This will be an excellent year in hopes of seeing these fine meteors, and the very faint as well as the many bright fireballs may be seen.
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MAY 2016 Calendar
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IMPORTANT EVENTS TO REMEMBER
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May 01 - Comet 180P/NEAT At Opposition (1.674 AU)
May 01 - Apollo Asteroid 2014 US115 Near-Earth Flyby (0.024 AU)
May 01 - 20th Anniversary (1996), Ulysses Crosses Comet Hyakutake's Tail
May 01-08 - 38th Annual Texas Star Party, near Fort Davis, Texas
May 02 - Asteroid 3917 Franz Schubert Closest Approach To Earth (1.394 AU)
May 02 - Asteroid 29132 Bradpitt Closest Approach To Earth (1.523 AU)
May 02 - Asteroid 916 America Closest Approach To Earth (1.851 AU)
May 02 - Asteroid 10552 Stockholm Closest Approach To Earth (2.214 AU)
May 02 - Asteroid 11247 Wilburwright Closest Approach To Earth (2.490 AU)
May 02 - Asteroid 3709 Polypoites Closest Approach To Earth (4.526 AU)
May 02-04 - Great Lakes Quasar Symposium, London, Canada
May 03 - Cassini, Orbital Trim Maneuver #448 (OTM-448)
May 03 - Comet 89P/Russell At Opposition (1.719 AU)
May 03 - Asteroid 5899 Jedicke Closest Approach To Earth (1.293 AU)
May 03 - Asteroid 5049 Sherlock Closest Approach To Earth (1.474 AU)
May 03 - Asteroid 1578 Kirkwood Closest Approach To Earth (3.654 AU)
May 03 - Lecture: When Will We Find Life Beyond Earth?, Mountain View, California
May 03 - Lecture: The Science of Interstellar, Washington DC
May 04 - Star Wars Day
May 04 - Apollo Asteroid 2016 EK56 Near-Earth Flyby (0.083 AU)
May 05 - Asteroid 3688 Navajo Closest Approach To Earth (1.359 AU)
May 05 - Asteroid 8003 Kelvin Closest Approach To Earth (1.405 AU)
May 05 - Lecture: Observing Extremes of Accretion, Ithaca, New York
May 05 - 55th Anniversary (1961), Freedom 7 Launch (Alan Shepard, 1st US Man in Space)
May 05 - John Draper's 205th Birthday (1811)
**May 05-08 - 22nd Delmarva Star Gazers Star Party, Laurel, Delaware
MAY 06 - NEW MOON - 02:30 p.m. CDT
May 06 - Cassini, Titan Flyby
**May 06 - Space Day
May 06 - Robert Dicke's 100th Birthday (1916)
May 07 - Asteroid 2 Pallas Occults TYC 1125-00398-1 (11.9 Magnitude Star)
May 07 - Asteroid 2713 Luxemburg Closest Approach To Earth (1.805 AU)
May 07 - Asteroid 3534 Sax Closest Approach To Earth (2.117 AU)
May 07 - Asteroid 3106 Morabito Closest Approach To Earth (2.919 AU)
May 08 - Asteroid 284996 Rosaparks Closest Approach To Earth (1.758 AU)
May 08 - Asteroid 1154 Astronomia Closest Approach To Earth (2.254 AU)
May 09 - Cassini, Orbital Trim Maneuver #449 (OTM-449)
May 09 - Asteroid 4690 Strasbourg Closest Approach To Earth (1.209 AU)
May 09 - Asteroid 85197 Ginkgo Closest Approach To Earth (1.499 AU)
May 09 - Asteroid 3140 Stellafane Closest Approach To Earth (2.282 AU)
May 09 - Asteroid 8958 Stargazer Closest Approach To Earth (1.761 AU)
May 09 - Asteroid 51826 Kalpanachawla Closest Approach To Earth (2.321 AU)
May 09 - Asteroid 3351 Smith Closest Approach To Earth (2.609 AU)
May 09 - Lecture: Titan Cloud Modeling, Ithaca, New York 
**May 09-15 - Astronomy Week
May 10 - Comet 243P/NEAT At Opposition (3.645 AU)
May 10 - Asteroid 4825 Ventura Closest Approach To Earth (1.532 AU)
May 10 - Asteroid 3162 Nostalgia Closest Approach To Earth (2.589 AU)
May 10-11 - Space Forum 2016, Luxembourg
May 10-12 - Data Systems In Aerospace (DASIA) Conference, Tallin, Estonia
May 11 - Comet 75D/Kohoutek At Opposition (3.492 AU)
May 11 - Asteroid 9725 Wainscoat Closest Approach To Earth (1.085 AU)
May 11 - Asteroid 3749 Balam (2 Moons) Closest Approach To Earth (1.349 AU)
May 11 - Asteroid 3594 Scotti Closest Approach To Earth (1.566 AU)
May 11 - Asteroid 73769 Delphi Closest Approach To Earth (3.520 AU)
May 11 - Asteroid 5254 Ulysses Closest Approach To Earth (4.864 AU)
May 11-12 - K2 Meeting, Porto, Portugal
May 12 - Comet 253P/PANSTARRS At Opposition (3.365 AU)
May 12 - Asteroid 5036 Tuttle Closest Approach To Earth (1.886 AU)
May 12 - Asteroid 6639 Marchis Closest Approach To Earth (1.914 AU)
May 12 - Asteroid 945 Barcelona Closest Approach To Earth (1.983 AU)
May 12 - Asteroid 216 Kleopatra (2 Moons) Closest Approach To Earth (2.452 AU)
May 12 - Lecture: Rocketplanes and the X-15, London, United Kingdom
MAY 13 - FIRST QUARTER MOON - 12:02 a.m. CDT 
*May 13 - Mercury Passes 0.4 Degrees From Venus
May 13 - Comet 100P/Hartley At Opposition (1.045 AU)
May 13 - Comet 77P/Longmore Perihelion (2.336 AU)
May 13 - Comet 236P/LINEAR At Opposition (3.190 AU)
May 13 - Asteroid 22824 von Neumann Closest Approach To Earth (1.528 AU)
May 13 - Asteroid 7328 Casanova Closest Approach To Earth (1.710 AU)
May 13 - Asteroid 1143 Odysseus Closest Approach To Earth (4.553 AU)
*May 13 - Royal Astronomical Society Ordinary Meeting, London, United Kingdom
May 13 - 35th Anniversary (1981), Salem Meteorite Fall (Hit House in Oregon)
May 13 - 155th Anniversary (1861), John Tebbutt's Discovery of the Great Comet of 1861
**May 14 - Astronomy Day
May 14 - Comet 185P/Petriew At Opposition (3.727 AU)
May 14 - Asteroid 1103 Sequoia Closest Approach To Earth (1.041 AU)
May 14 - Asteroid 2653 Principia Closest Approach To Earth (1.404 AU)
May 14 - Asteroid 32096 Puckett Closest Approach To Earth (1.462 AU)
May 14 - Asteroid 46610 Besixdouz Closest Approach To Earth (1.611 AU)
May 14 - Asteroid 2305 King Closest Approach To Earth (1.853 AU)
May 15 - Asteroid 18024 Dobson Closest Approach To Earth (1.973 AU)
May 15 - Asteroid 132904 Notkin Closest Approach To Earth (2.951 AU)
May 15 - 180th Anniversary (1836), Francis Baily's Observation of "Baily's Beads" During Annular Solar Eclipse
May 16 - Apollo Asteroid 2016 BX14 Near-Earth Flyby (0.058 AU)
May 16 - Asteroid 3124 Kansas Closest Appraoch To Earth (1.765 AU)
May 16 - Asteroid 17062 Bardot Closest Approach To Earth (2.080 AU)
May 16 - Kuiper Belt Object 2015 KH162 At Opposition (58.159 AU)
May 16 - 5th Anniversary (2011), STS-134 Launch (Space Shuttle Endeavour, International Space Station)
May 16 - 150th Anniversary (1866), Norman Pogson's Discovery of Asteroid 87 Sylvia
May 16-17 - 4th Forum for New Leaders in Space Science, Irvine, California
May 17 - Comet C/2015 W1 (Gibbs) Perihelion (2.232 AU)
May 17 - Comet 32P/Comas Sola At Opposition (3.554 AU)
May 17 - Comet 131P/Mueller At Opposition (3.736 AU)
May 17 - Apollo Asteroid 2016 GS2 Near-Earth Flyby (0.009 AU)
May 17 - Asteroid 12382 Niagara Falls Closest Approach To Earth (1.713 AU)
May 17 - Asteroid 51824 Mikeanderson Closest Approach To Earth (2.038 AU)
May 17 - Asteroid 3933 Portugal Closest Approach To Earth (2.061 AU)
May 17-19 - The Humans to Mars Summit 2016, Washington DC
May 18 - Comet 116P/Wild At Opposition (1.350 AU)
May 18 - Comet 217P/LINEAR At Opposition (3.094 AU)
May 18 - Asteroid 447 Valentine Closest Approach To Earth (2.094 AU)
May 18 - Roger Boscovich's 305th Birthday (1711)
May 18-19 - 4th European Lunar Symposium, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
May 18-20 - Workshop: Pulsars and their Environments, Meudon, France
May 18-22 - 35th Annual International Space Development Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico
May 19 - Asteroid 6434 Jewitt Closest Approach To Earth (1.459 AU)
May 19 - Asteroid 1258 Sicilia Closest Approach To Earth (2.286 AU)
May 19 - 20th Anniversary (1996), STS-77 Launch (Space Shuttle Endeavour, SPACEHAB)
May 19 - 45th Anniversary (1971), Mars 2 Launch (USSR Mars Orbiter/Lander)
May 19 - 1,155th Anniversary (861 AD) Meteorite Hit Shrine in Nogata, Japan
May 19-23 - AstroCats & RASC General Assembly, London, Canada
May 20 - Comet 78P/Gehrels At Opposition (4.282 AU)
May 20 - Asteroid 2873 Binzel Closest Approach To Earth (0.938 AU)
May 20 - Asteroid 9025 Polansky Closest Approach To Earth (2.064 AU)
May 20 - Asteroid 247553 Berndpauli Closest Approach To Earth (3.262 AU)
May 20-22 - 2016 Soviet/Chinese Technical Forum, London, United Kingdom
MAY 21 - FULL MOON - 04:14 p.m. CDT
May 21 - Cosmos (GLONASS 762, Uragan-M N45) Soyuz-2.1b/Fregat-M Launch
May 21 - Asteroid 30857 Parsec Closest Approach To Earth (1.552 AU)
May 21 - Plutino 38628 Huya At Opposition (27.569 AU)
May 21 - Plutino 2006 HJ123 At Opposition (33.726 AU)
May 21-22 - Glenn Research Center Open House, Cleveland, Ohio
May 22 - Cassini, Orbital Trim Maneuver #450 (OTM-450)
**May 22 - Mars At Opposition
May 22 - Asteroid 71885 Denning Closest Approach To Earth (1.502 AU)
May 22 - Asteroid 727 Nipponia Closest Approach To Earth (1.868 AU)
May 23 - Comet 289P/Blanpain At Opposition (3.672 AU)
May 23-27 - Clean Space Industrial Days, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
May 23-Jun 01 - Cargese School 2016: Astrophysical Jets, Cargese, France
May 24 - Amor Asteroid 2016 CF194 Near-Earth Flyby (0.053 AU)
May 24 - Asteroid 14094 Garneau Closest Approach To Earth (1.948 AU)
May 24 - Lecture: OSIRIS-Rex, Washington DC
May 24 - 35th Anniversary (1981), Discovery of Neptune Moon Larissa
May 24 - Daniel Fahrenheit's 330th Birthday (1686)
May 24-25 - 5th Interplanetary CubeSat Workshop, Oxford, United Kingdom
May 24-26 - Conference: New Views of the Moon 2, Houston, Texas
May 24-26 - International Conference on Tethers in Space, Ann Arbor, Michigan
May 24-26 - Space Tech Expo: Design - Build - Test, Pasadena, California
May 24-26 - The Thirty Meter Telescope Science Forum, Kyoto, Japan
May 24-26 - Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo, Pasadena, California
May 25 - Comet 224P/LINEAR-NEAT Perihelion (1.993 AU)
May 25 - Asteroid 432971 Loving Closest Approach To Earth (1.455 AU)
May 25 - Asteroid 4589 McDowell Closest Approach To Earth (1.536 AU)
May 25 - 15th Anniversary (2001), Galileo, Callisto 30 Flyby
May 25 - 55th Anniversary (1961), John F. Kennedy's Moon Goal Speech
May 26 - Asteroid 270553 Loureed Closest Approach To Earth (1.774 AU)
May 26 - Asteroid 6318 Cronkite Closest Approach To Earth (2.560 AU)
May 26 - Sally Ride's 65th Birthday (1951)
May 26-27 - 19th Eastern Gravity Meeting, Durham, New Hampshire
May 27 - Comet P/2007 R3 (Gibbs) Perihelion (2.521 AU)
May 27 - Asteroid 3414 Champollion Closest Approach To Earth (1.388 AU)
May 27 - 85th Anniversary (1931), 1st US Full Scale Wind Tunnel Opened at Langley Field Research Center
May 28 - Asteroid 9523 Torino Closest Approach To Earth (1.373 AU)
May 28 - Asteroid 11020 Orwell Closest Approach To Earth (1.743 AU)
May 28 - Asteroid 88705 Potato Closest Approach To Earth (1.894 AU)
May 28 - Asteroid 2742 Gibson Closest Approach To Earth (2.085 AU)
May 28 - Asteroid 6676 Monet Closest Approach To Earth (2.216 AU)
May 28 - Asteroid 588 Achilles (Jupiter Trojan) Closest Approach To Earth (4.895 AU)
May 28 - 45th Anniversary (1971), Mars 3 Launch (USSR Mars Orbiter/Lander)
May 28 - Placidus Fixlmillner's 295th Birthday (1721)
MAY 29 - LAST QUARTER MOON - 07:12 a.m. CDT
May 29 - Asteroid 3852 Glennford Closest Approach To Earth (2.488 AU)
May 29-Jun 03 - SuperDARN Workshop 2016, Fairbanks, Alaska
May 29-Jun 24 - 2016 Summer School in Astrophyics: Water in the Solar System and Beyond, Castel Gandolfo, Vatican City State
May 30 - Asteroid 4125 Lew Allen Closest Approach To Earth (0.868 AU)
May 30 - Asteroid 9253 Oberth Closest Approach To Earth (1.357 AU)
May 30 - Asteroid 14061 Nagincox Closest Approach To Earth (1.700 AU)
May 30 - Asteroid 241 Germania Closest Approach To Earth (2.088 AU)
May 30 - Asteroid 2598 Merlin Closest Approach To Earth (2.357 AU)
May 30 - 45th Anniversary (1971), Mariner 9 Launch (USA Mars Orbiter)
May 30 - 50th Anniversary (1966), Surveyor 1 Launch (USA Moon Lander)
May 30 - Joseph Kennedy's 100th Birthday (1916)
May 31 - Comet 216P/LINEAR Perihelion (2.150 AU)
May 31 - Comet 136P/Mueller Perihelion (2.979 AU)
May 31 - Asteroid 13606 Bean Closest Approach To Earth (1.172 AU)
May 31 - Asteroid 327695 Yokoono Closest Approach To Earth (1.364 AU)
May 31 - Asteroid 7225 Huntress Closest Approach To Earth (1.605 AU)
May 31-Jun 03 - Workshop on String Field Theory and Related Aspects, Sao Paulo, Brazil
May 31-Jun 03 - 2016 Solar Physics Division (SPD) Meeting, Boulder, Colorado
May 31-Jun 04 - 12th Summer School in Statistics for Astronomers, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Clear skies and bright comets to all!
 
Dr. Clay
Arkansas Sky Observatory
 Observatory Hill Drive, Petit Jean Mt.
MPC/cbat Obs. H41 / Petit Jean Mountain
MPC/cbat Obs. H45 / Petit Jean Mountain South
MPC/cbat Obs. H43 / Conway
MPC/cbat Obs. H44 / Cascade Mountain
http://www.arksky.org/
APRIL 2016
The ASO MONTHLY CALENDAR OF EVENTS  AND ASTRONOMICAL DATA
Note that recent discoveries and events of immediate importance are always posted
on the ASO Current News Forum!!
 
Calendar is based on the "Space Calendar" data presented by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/calendar/
and the Arkansas Sky Observatory www.arksky.org Team
IMPORTANT SKY EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES OF INTEREST TO ASTRONOMERS, PROFESSIONAL AND AMATEUR, ARE PROVIDED BY ASO
NOTE:  Highlighted events are those that are of interest to observers with modest equipment, or are special events of interest to ALL astronomers!
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