Board of Directors, MMMAA
Welcome to the Shooting Gallery
In case you missed the Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower on Monday and Tuesday night, May 6 and 7, come to the Martz/Kohl Observatory at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, May 15, for a special presentation on meteors by a local meteor collector and expert on the subject. Planet Earth is in the “Celestial Shooting Gallery” targeted by meteors and asteroids, and it’s good to know what’s happening over our heads that could be dangerous, or at least beautiful to watch.
The recent Eta Aquarids meteor shower was an above average shower, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity was, however, seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate reached about 30 meteors per hour. The “Shooting Star” sky show was produced by dust particles left behind by Comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times.
The shower runs every year from April 19 to May 28. It’s peak this year was on the night of May 6 and the morning of the May 7. The thin crescent moon set early in the evening. This left dark skies for a good show, for anyone not under the on-and-off cloud cover that has made stargazing difficult recently. Best viewing was from a dark location after midnight. Meteors radiated from the constellation Aquarius, but did appear in many other places in the sky.
Full Moon, Blue Moon
On Saturday, May 18 the Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 21:11 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the “Full Flower Moon.” This coincided with the time of year when spring flowers appear in abundance.
The May full moon has also been called the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. Since this is the third of four full moons in this season, it is known as a blue moon. This rare calendar event only happens once every few years, giving rise to the term, “once in a blue moon.”
Normally, there are only three full moons in each season of the year. But since full moons occur every 29.53 days, occasionally a season will contain 4 full moons. The extra full moon of the season, the Blue Moon, occurs on average only once every 2.7 years.
Please visit the Martz/Kohl Observatory any Wednesday night. When the sky is clear, tours will include opportunities to look at the month’s special viewing feature of the month. Keep July on your calendar, as July 20 is the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. A special program is being planned for the event at the Martz/Kohl Observatory.
For a deeper look at the night sky, planets, stars and the entire universe, visit the Martz/Kohl Observatory online at martzobservatory.org, check the schedule of events and visit in person. Thank you to Hall and Laury Opticians for sponsoring these Martz/Kohl columns.