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Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of May 2023

Posted by Guy Pirro   05/04/2023 09:09AM

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of May 2023

M104, also known as the Sombrero Galaxy (NGC 4594), is a brilliant, nearly edge-on galaxy with a bulbous core encircled by thick dust lanes cutting across the spiral structure of the galaxy. This dust lane is the site of star formation in the galaxy. The center of M104 is thought to be home to a massive black hole. Embedded in the bright core of M104 is a smaller disk (not visible in the image), which is tilted relative to the large disk. X-ray emission suggests that there is material falling into the compact core, where a one-billion-solar-mass black hole resides. With an apparent magnitude of 8, the Sombrero galaxy is beyond the limit of naked-eye visibility but can be spotted through small telescopes most easily during May. M104 is located 28 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo, and with a mass equal to 800 billion suns, it is one of the most massive objects in the Virgo galaxy cluster. M104 was discovered in 1781 by the French astronomer and comet hunter Pierre Méchain, one of Charles Messier’s colleagues. [Video and Content Credits: NASA, the Office of Public Outreach – Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), JPL – Caltech, Preston Dyches, Christopher Harris, and Lisa Poje with subject matter guidance provided by Bill Dunford, Gary Spiers, and Lyle Tavernier] [Image Credit: Matthew Russell, Astromart Gallery Contributor - https://astromart.com/gallery/photo/18701 ]

 


Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of May 2023

Welcome to the night sky report for May 2023 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. In May, we are looking away from the crowded, dusty plane of our own galaxy toward a region where the sky is brimming with distant galaxies. Locate Virgo to find a concentration of roughly 2000 galaxies and search for Coma Berenices to identify many more. Coma Berenices is a great target for binoculars. Look for galaxies like M104 (Sombrero Galaxy), M87 (Virgo A Galaxy), and M64 (Black Eye Galaxy). The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.

Pleasant spring evenings are ideal for tracing the legendary patterns of the night sky. Find the pattern of the Big Dipper—part of Ursa Major, the Great Bear. Trace past the curve of the Big Dipper’s handle, down through the bright orange star Arcturus, and continue until you come to another bright star: Spica.

Spica is actually a pair of massive blue-white stars. Spica anchors the constellation Virgo, which dominates the southern sky in May. Facing Virgo, we are looking away from the crowded, dusty plane of our own galaxy. In this direction, we have a less obstructed view of the deeper universe, which is brimming with other galaxies.

One of these is a lenticular, or lens-shaped, galaxy known as the Sombrero Galaxy. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope provides a detailed view of the dark lanes of dust ringing the Sombrero Galaxy’s bright core.

Just above the Y-shape in Virgo is a concentration of roughly 2000 galaxies known as the Virgo Cluster. One of the largest of these is M87, a giant elliptical galaxy with trillions of stars and a supermassive black hole in its core.

The black hole is emitting a jet of material. An image from a ground-based radio observatory shows that the jet shines very brightly in radio light. The radio image also shows a turbulent cloud: evidence for a second jet, firing in the opposite direction.

 

 

Next to Virgo lies the constellation Coma Berenices—Bernice’s hair. Tangled in Bernice’s locks are many other distant galaxies—among them the spiral galaxy M64. M64 is also known as the Black Eye Galaxy for the dark area in its disk. Hubble shows that the dark region is a large band of dust spinning in the opposite direction of the inner regions, likely as a result of a collision in the galaxy’s past.

Back toward the handle of the Big Dipper sits the small pattern of Canes Venatici, the hunting dogs. Within the boundaries of this constellation, just below the end star of the Dipper’s handle, telescopes find another faint swirl of light: M51. Hubble shows M51 as a spectacular face-on spiral—the Whirlpool Galaxy—along with a companion galaxy. An X-ray image of the companion reveals shock waves caused by outbursts from a supermassive black hole.

On the morning of May 13th, find the planet Saturn rising together with a third-quarter (or half-full) moon. Find them together in the southeast in the couple of hours before sunrise.

Then on May 17th, a slim crescent moon rises about an hour before the Sun, and from much of the US and Canada, the planet Jupiter will appear very close to the Moon. But from some southern US states, you'll be able to observe Jupiter passing behind the Moon as the pair rise in morning twilight. And from the western states, Jupiter will actually be behind the Moon, in occultation, as the pair rise. Jupiter will start to emerge from behind the Moon as the Sun comes up. Now, this will be quite low in the sky, so you'll need a clear view of the horizon to observe it, and a pair of binoculars will be a big help as the sky begins to brighten.

Next, following sunset on May 22nd through the 24th, the Moon, Venus, and Mars form a close grouping in the west. The Moon sits between the two planets on the 23rd.

Venus has been rising higher in the sky each evening for the past few months. That begins to change in May, as the brilliant planet reaches its highest point in the western sky, and starts trending lower as we move into June. It'll disappear from evening skies by late July, reappearing in the eastern sky about a month later as a morning object.

 

 

Views from the Southern Hemisphere

There are some key differences between the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere, compared to the North. To start with, there's no counterpart to the North Star for the Southern Hemisphere. The celestial poles shift over time, so eventually there will be a "South Star," but not at the moment.

Next, from Orion to the Teapot to the Gemini twins, the seasonal star patterns northern observers are most familiar with appear flipped upside down when viewed in southern skies. The Moon also appears the other way around, and its phases fill up from left to right, instead of right to left as they do in the north.

Stars near the north celestial pole, including Ursa Major and Cassiopeia are below the horizon for much of the Southern Hemisphere. But there are lots of dazzling constellations easily visible only from the Southern Hemisphere, like Crux, Carina, Tucana (the toucan) and Centaurus (the centaur)!

Next, while observers in both hemispheres are well-acquainted with the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, Southern Hemisphere skywatchers get to enjoy the second and third brightest stars, as well. The second-brightest star, Canopus, appears about half as bright as Sirius, but that's still quite bright. And the two stars are often seen together in southern skies. The third brightest star in in our skies here on Earth is also the closest star system to our own – Alpha Centauri. It's too far south in the sky to be visible for most of the Northern Hemisphere. But it's quite well-known to skywatchers to the south.

Finally, there are two entire galaxies easily observed in the southern sky with the unaided eye. These are the Magellanic Clouds, which are dwarf galaxies that orbit our galaxy the Milky Way. They make for a stunning sight in night sky photos from Southern latitudes.

And that's a really short list of some of the ways the skies above the Southern Hemisphere are unique. Our view of the cosmos may be different from one part of the planet to the other, but the insights we gain from looking up and exploring are something we all can share.

The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.

The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."

 

Constellation: Bootes

NGC 5248                    Galaxy                         C45, Herschel 400 H34-1

NGC 5466                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H9-6

NGC 5557                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H99-1

NGC 5676                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H189-1

     - NGC 5660             Galaxy                              - Paired with H189-1

NGC 5689                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H188-1

 

Constellation: Coma Berenices

NGC 4147                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H19-1

NGC 4150                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H73-1

NGC 4192                    Galaxy                         M98

NGC 4203                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H175-1

NGC 4245                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H74-1

NGC 4251                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H89-1

NGC 4254                    Galaxy                         M99

NGC 4274                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H75-1

NGC 4278                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H90-1

NGC 4293                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H5-5

NGC 4314                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H76-1

NGC 4321                    Galaxy                         M100

NGC 4350                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H86-2

     - NGC 4340             Galaxy                              - Paired with H86-2

NGC 4382                    Galaxy                         M85

NGC 4394                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H55-2 Paired with M85

NGC 4414                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H77-1

NGC 4419                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H113-1

NGC 4448                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H91-1

NGC 4450                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H56-2

NGC 4459                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H161-1

NGC 4473                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H114-2

NGC 4477                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H115-2

     - NGC4479              Galaxy                              - Paired with H115-2

NGC 4494                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H83-1

NGC 4501                    Galaxy                         M88

NGC 4548                    Galaxy                         M91, Herschel 400 H120-2

NGC 4559                    Galaxy                         C36, Herschel 400 H92-1

NGC 4565                    Galaxy                         C38, Herschel 400 H24-5

NGC 4651                    Galaxy                         P222

NGC 4689                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H128-2

NGC 4725                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H84-1

NGC 4826                    Galaxy                         M64 Black Eye Galaxy

NGC 4889                    Galaxy                         C35

NGC 5024                    Globular Cluster          M53

NGC 5053                    Globular Cluster          P78

 

Constellation: Ursa Major

Messier 40                  Double Star                 M40 Winnecke 4

IC 2574                        Galaxy                         P121 Coddington’s Dwarf Galaxy

NGC 2681                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H242-1

NGC 2742                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H249-1

NGC 2768                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H250-1

NGC 2787                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H216-1

NGC 2841                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H205-1

NGC 2950                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H68-4

NGC 2976                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H285-1

NGC 2985                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H78-1

     - NGC 3027             Galaxy                              - Paired with H78-1

NGC 3031                    Galaxy                         M81 – Bode’s Galaxy

NGC 3034                    Galaxy                         M82, Herschel 400 H79-4 Cigar Galaxy

NGC 3077                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H286-1

NGC 3079                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H47-5

NGC 3184                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H168-1

NGC 3198                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H199-1

NGC 3310                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H60-4

NGC 3556                    Galaxy                         M108 Herschel 400 H46-5

NGC 3359                    Galaxy                         P202

NGC 3587                    Planetary Nebula        M97 Owl Nebula

NGC 3610                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H270-1

NGC 3613                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H271-1 Paired with H244-1

NGC 3619                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H244-1 Paired with H271-1

NGC 3631                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H226-1

NGC 3665                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H219-1

     - NGC 3658             Galaxy                              - Paired with H219-1

NGC 3675                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H194-1

NGC 3726                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H730-2

NGC 3729                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H222-1

     - NGC 3718             Galaxy                              - Paired with H222-1

NGC 3813                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H94-1

NGC 3877                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H201-1

NGC 3893                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H738-2

     - NGC 3896             Galaxy                              - Paired with H738-2

NGC 3898                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H228-1

NGC 3938                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H203-1

NGC 3941                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H173-1

NGC 3945                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H251-1

NGC 3949                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H202-1

NGC 3953                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H45-5

NGC 3982                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H62-4

NGC 3992                    Galaxy                         M109, Herschel 400 H61-4

NGC 3998                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H229-1

     - NGC 3990             Galaxy                              - Paired with H229-1

NGC 4026                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H223-1

NGC 4036                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H253-1 Paired with H252-1

NGC 4041                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H252-1 Paired with H253-1

NGC 4051                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H56-4

NGC 4085                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H224-1 Paired with H206-1

NGC 4088                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H206-1 Paired with H224-1

NGC 4102                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H225-1

NGC 4605                    Galaxy                         P252

NGC 5322                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H256-1

NGC 5457                    Galaxy                         M101 Pinwheel Galaxy

NGC 5474                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H214-1 Paired with M101

NGC 5473                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H231-1

NGC 5631                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H236-1

 

 Constellation: Ursa Minor

NGC 6217                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H280-1

 

Constellation: Virgo

NGC 4030                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H121-1

NGC 4179                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H9-1

NGC 4216                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H35-1

NGC 4261                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H139-2

     - NGC 4264             Galaxy                              - Paired with H139-2

NGC 4273                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H569-2

     - NGC 4268             Galaxy                              - Paired with H569-2

NGC 4281                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H573-2

     - NGC 4277             Galaxy                              - Paired with H573-2

NGC 4303                    Galaxy                         M61, Herschel 400 H139-1

NGC 4365                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H30-1

NGC 4371                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H22-1

NGC 4374                    Galaxy                         M84

NGC 4406                    Galaxy                         M86

NGC 4429                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H65-2

NGC 4435                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H28.1-1 Eyes of Markarian’s Chain (North)

NGC 4438                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H28.2-1 Eyes of Markarian’s Chain (South)

NGC 4442                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H156-2

NGC 4472                    Galaxy                         M49

NGC 4478                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H124-2

     - NGC 4476             Galaxy                              - Paired with H124-2

NGC 4486                    Galaxy                         M87 – Virgo A Galaxy

NGC 4526                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H31-1

NGC 4527                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H37-2

NGC 4535                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H500-2 Lost Galaxy

NGC 4536                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H2-5

NGC 4546                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H160-1

NGC 4550                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H36-1

     - NGC 4551             Galaxy                              - Paired with H36-1

NGC 4552                    Galaxy                         M89

NGC 4569                    Galaxy                         M90

NGC 4570                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H32-1

NGC 4579                    Galaxy                         M58

NGC 4594                    Galaxy                         M104, Herschel 400 H43-1 Sombrero Galaxy

NGC 4596                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H24-1

NGC 4621                    Galaxy                         M59

NGC 4636                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H38-2

NGC 4643                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H10-1

NGC 4649                    Galaxy                         M60

     - NGC 4647             Galaxy                              - Paired with M60

NGC 4654                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H126-2

NGC 4660                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H71-2

NGC 4665                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H142-1

NGC 4666                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H15-1

NGC 4697                    Galaxy                         C52, Herschel 400 H39-1

NGC 4698                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H8-1

NGC 4699                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H129-1

NGC 4753                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H16-1

NGC 4754                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H25-1 Paired with H75-2

NGC 4762                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H75-2 Paired with H25-1

NGC 4781                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H134-1

NGC 4845                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H536-2

NGC 4856                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H68-1

NGC 4866                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H162-1

NGC 4900                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H143-1

NGC 4958                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H130-1

NGC 4995                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H42-1

NGC 5054                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H513-2

NGC 5068                    Galaxy                         P203

NGC 5247                    Galaxy                         P67

NGC 5363                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H6-1 Paired with H534-2

NGC 5364                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H534-2 Paired with H6-1

NGC 5566                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H144-1

     - NGC 5560             Galaxy                              - Paired with H144-1

     - NGC 5569             Galaxy                              - Paired with H144-1

NGC 5576                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H146-1

NGC 5634                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H70-1

NGC 5746                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H126-1

     - NGC 5740             Galaxy                              - Paired with H126-1

NGC 5846                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H128-1

 

For more information:

Northern Latitudes:

https://hubblesite.org/resource-gallery/learning-resources/tonights-sky

https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatching/home/

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatching/whats-up/

https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/skyreport

http://outreach.as.utexas.edu/public/skywatch.html

https://griffithobservatory.org/explore/observing-the-sky/sky-report/

http://www.beckstromobservatory.com/whats-up-in-tonights-sky-2/

https://www.fairbanksmuseum.org/planetarium/eye-on-the-night-sky

http://dudleyobservatory.org/tonights-sky/

https://cse.umn.edu/mifa/starwatch/2022

http://www.schoolsobservatory.org.uk/learn/astro/nightsky/maps

https://tonightssky.com/MainPage.php

https://www.skymania.com/wp/your-night-sky-this-month/

https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/visible-planets-tonight-mars-jupiter-venus-saturn-mercury

https://www.pbs.org/seeinginthedark/explore-the-sky/your-sky-tonight.html

https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/night/

https://stardate.org/nightsky

https://www.adventuresci.org/starcharts

https://www.astromart.com/news/search?category_id=3&q=kiss+the+sky&from=&to

 

Equatorial Latitudes:

https://heavens-above.com/SkyChart2.aspx

https://in-the-sky.org/data/constellations_map.php

https://ytliu0.github.io/starCharts/chartGCRS.html

 

Southern Latitudes:

https://www.scitech.org.au/explore/the-sky-tonight/

https://www.stardome.org.nz/star-charts--sky-spotter

 

Watch Satellites Pass Over Your Location:

https://james.darpinian.com/satellites/

 

Astromart News Archives:

https://www.astromart.com/news/search?category_id=3&q=.

 

Check out some of my favorite Words of Wisdom:

https://astromart.com/news/show/words-of-wisdom-my-favorite-quotable-quotes

https://astromart.com/news/show/words-of-wisdom-my-favorite-proverbs-from-around-the-world

 

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