April brought us a rare eclipse that left the most beautiful photographs in some parts of the world, but the astronomical calendar of May 2023 will not be left behind: the Flower Moon, meteor showers, and more eclipses will occur in the coming weeks. The planets will also present important aspects that will result in alignments and conjunctions.
Astronomical Calendar May 2023
The Earth’s natural satellite will be positioned on the opposite side of the Earth from a solar perspective which will allow the Moon to shine with all its intensity on the night side of the planet. The full phase will enter exactly on May 5 at 17:36 UTC (11:36 Central Mexico time), but it will not be until nightfall when we will be able to see the beautiful full Moon.
Look eastward after sunset, where you will see the Moon with 100% disk illumination. As the night progresses, the satellite will rise along the ecliptic and reach the zenith of the vault at midnight, then descend to the west and finally hide at sunrise.
This full Moon is known as the Flower Moon thanks to the traditional North American people because it is in May when flowers reach their peak bloom in the northern hemisphere. Learn here all the names of the 12 full moons of the year.
In the southern hemisphere, we will also see a full Moon; however, it is not the Flower Moon because in that region the current season is autumn. The autumn full moon is known as the Beaver Moon.
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
On May 5, the Earth’s shadow will cause us to see the Moon eclipsed. The Blood Moon, as lunar eclipses are known, will appear in the skies of some regions of the globe. The reason why the Moon turns blood red has a very interesting explanation that you can read here.
The last hybrid solar eclipse inaugurated the eclipse season that is annually active on Earth. The May 5 eclipse will not be visible worldwide, only Asia, Australia, eastern Europe, and Eastern Africa will have a clear view of the astronomical phenomenon. The rest of the world will be able to see the eclipse through NASA and Virtual Telescope Project transmissions. America will have its own eclipses later in the year.
Eta Aquarid Star Shower
Eta Aquarid is an above-average star shower, so if you are looking for the ideal time to take some time for reflection, this may be the right time. It is active annually from April 19 through May 28, but within this period there is one night when it reaches its best visibility. During May 2023, Eta Aquarids will be very active between the night of May 6 and the early morning of May 7.
The meteor shower is visible in both the northern and southern hemispheres. In fact, it is one of the few showers that is much more abundant in the south where it reaches an hourly rate of up to 60 meteors per hour. However, the north will see the brightest meteors and up to 30 shooting stars will be seen crossing the sky every hour.
In 2023 the Eta Aquarids will coincide with the Flower Moon, so the brightness of the satellite may eclipse the fainter meteors. To enjoy the event to the fullest, look for skies clear of light pollution and visual obstructions.
Mercury at its greatest western elongation
The small planet reaches its greatest western elongation of 24.9° from the Sun on May 29. This is the best time to see Mercury, as it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet just before dawn in the eastern sky.
Story written in Spanish by Alejandra Martínez in Ecoosfera