Every Monday, I select the celestial high points of the northern hemisphere (mid-north latitudes) for the coming week, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.
What to watch for in the night sky this week: May 30 to June 5, 2022
Are you ready to take the risk of seeing something incredible? This week, there’s a chance — only a chance — that an unforgettable meteor flare could see a thousand meteors per hour surge above well-timed Northern Hemisphere observers. If it does materialize, it will do so in a dark, moonless sky as there is a new moon on Monday.
Monday, May 30, 2022: Tau Herculid meteor shower?
Tonight, astronomers predict that there is could be an explosion in the night sky of 1,400 to 100,000 meteors as Earth blasts through dust and debris left in the inner solar system by Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. It broke up in 1995 and could cause something really spectacular…or maybe not. Some scientists are predicting an explosion rich only in extremely faint meteors, so be prepared for disappointment.
The key time to look outside is 05:00 Universal Time, i.e. 8:00 p.m. EST and 5:00 p.m. PST (so, as soon as it gets dark…). If anyone has good eyesight, it will be the Americas.
You can watch it online here at 11:00 p.m. EDT tonight – May 30, 2022 (04:00 UTC May 21, 2022).
Tuesday, May 31, 2022: An ultra-thin crescent moon
The reappearance of the crescent Moon after the New Moon is a spectacular monthly event that too few of us attempt to witness. Look to the sky to the west, low on the horizon, just after sunset and see if you can spot the delicate crescent moon illuminated at 2%.
Wednesday, June 1, 2022: A crescent moon
Do the same tonight and it will be much easier for you to spot the 6% lit crescent moon. Look at the unlit side of the Moon and you’ll likely see “Earthshine” – the reflected light from our own planet on the Moon. You may need binoculars to see it.
Thursday, June 2, 2022: A crescent Moon and an “Earthshine” with the naked eye
A 10% lit crescent moon at dusk tonight is ideal for seeing “Earthshine without visual aids.”
Friday, June 3, 2022: A crescent moon and the hive cluster
A 17% lit crescent moon will shine next to the Hive Cluster in the constellation Cancer tonight. You’ll need binoculars for this one, but any pair will do.
Saturday June 4, 2022: the five planets with the naked eye
Get up before sunrise and cast your eyes to the southeast horizon and you will be able to see all five planets visible to the naked eye – six if you include the planet you are on! Additionally, they will be in order of distance from the Sun, with Mercury closest to the horizon followed by Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
Sunday June 5, 2022: The Moon and Regulus
A 35% illuminated crescent Moon will be visible tonight very close to the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo.
Constellation of the week: Ankle boots
If there are any “shooting stars” from this week’s possible Tau Herculid meteor shower, they will appear to come from the constellation Boötes.
Rising in the east after dark, viewed from the northern hemisphere, you can quite easily spot this Y-shaped constellation by going in an arc from the tail of the Big Dipper to the next bright star, Arcturus (“Arc to Arcturus”).
Item of the Week: Hive Cluster (M44)
Found in the otherwise sparse constellation of Cancer, the Crab, the Hive cluster – also called M44 and Praesepe (meaning “eat” in Latin) – is a cluster of stars about 580 light-years apart.
Although you can see it with the naked eye in reasonably dark skies, a pair of binoculars will easily find it in light-polluted cities. Expect to find around 60 stars in binoculars.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.