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The Sky this Month

MAS Sky this month

What's in the night sky this month ?

The 'fixed' stars will appear in the same locations year after year (note 1). Some astronomical events - such as meteor showers - also repeat from year to year (even if the 'peak' date of a meteor shower varies somewhat) whilst other astronomical objects, such as the planets and Comets, have orbital periods that don't follow Earth's annual cycle at all. So these pages focus on the main Constellations, whilst other events can be found on the Events page

Note 1. In fact, due to the precession of the Earths axis, positions of the Constellations don't repeat exactly from one year to the next. Fortunately, in the context of "What's in the sky this month ?", this 'slippage' (which is 1 degree every 71.6 years) can be ignored (it taking 25,772 years to complete one revolution). So, if this had been written down some 2,200 years ago, at the time when the 'Sun signs' were defined, everything would have 'shifted' by some 30 degrees (or one 'Zodiac' constellation) and these pages would make as much sense today as that Astrology nonsense :-)

Running the Stellarium scripts (.ssc)

Our monthly sky Stellarium 'scripts', {date}-WhatsOn.ssc, were designed to run with Stellarium V10.1 but should 'work' with almost any version. To run the scrip on your own computer, start by downloading the script = 'right click' the link and use 'Save link as'. Next drag the .ssc file to the to the '\scripts' sub-directory of the installed Stellarium program directory (i.e. C:\Program Files\Stellarium\scripts).

To run the script, launch Stellarium, open the 'Configuration' menu dialog and go to the 'Scripts' tab. A list of available scripts will be shown in the list box on the left side. You select a script by clicking on it as usual and details (about that script) will then be shown in the panel on the right side. To run the selected script, click the 'run script' button (the icon that looks like a DVD player 'Play' button). For more Stellarium scripts, visit the Stellarium.org/wiki page

Note, before running a script it's a 'good idea' to disable the on-screen 'information' (Configuration, Information tab, set 'Selected Object information' = 'none')

(-) 05 May

Meteors this month The Eta Aquarids, active from April 19 to May 28, peaking May 5-6 (the radiant is in northern Aquarius, at RA 22h20m, Dec -01). One of two meteor showers associated with the famous Halley's Comet (the other is the Orionids, see October). Whilst active from late April to mid May (and producing higher peak values than the Lyrids) the radiant only reaches a reasonable altitude just before dawn. So they are best observed from the southern hemisphere, although in 2013 and enhanced shower was seen as the Earth encountered multiple comet 'trails' left over by Halley 8-11 centuries ago. The "Camelopardalis" (expected radiant of debris left over from 209P/LINEAR). Whilst disappointing (so far), future years may yield a shower. The radiant is at around RA 08h15m, Dec +79, an area of sky that doesn't become fully dark at this time of the year - it will be 40 deg above the northern horizon as dawn approaches when you have the best chance of seeing something. Photo: ../Sky_this_month/photos/May.jpgThe sky (looking South) this month.

(click the sky map, right, for a larger view)

The Stellarium script(s) presented at our meeting can be downloaded (using 'right click' and 'Save link as') :-
May 2015
May 2016
(note = scripts built for Stellarium 10.4)

This note last modified: 25th Nov 2016 10:30.


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