This Week’s Sky at a Glance, May 19 – May 26

The long weekend in May is usually the start of baseball season in New Brunswick. It is also the harbinger of star party season for members of RASC NB; the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, New Brunswick Centre. RASC NB has more than 100 members across the province and astronomy education through public outreach is a focal point of our activities. Star parties are part of the outreach program, along with visits to schools, youth and seniors groups, and general observing sessions.

Star parties are held in the larger parks of the province, usually when the Moon is near the new or first quarter phase. Saturday afternoon events could include solar observing, telescope clinics or children activities, and Friday and Saturday evenings involve a “What’s Up” presentation and telescope observing. This summer the four best planets for observing – Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus – will be at or near their best for viewing. Mars will be at its closest since 2003. The Moon near looks astounding through a telescope, and those who stay up later will be treated to star clusters, nebulae and galaxies.

Often, a dozen or more telescopes of various types and sizes are operated by RASC NB members and guests for your enjoyment. There could be line-ups at each scope so please be patient and respectful of the equipment. All you need to do is place your eye up to, but not on, the telescope eyepiece. Touching the scope could move it off the object you want to observe. Please avoid using white or otherwise bright lights in the observing area; allow your eyes to adjust to the dimmer light. Supervise your young children and, if possible, leave the dogs at the campsite or keep them at the periphery of the observing area.

This year’s star parties are at Kouchibouguac June 15-16, Mount Carleton July 13-14, Mactaquac August 10-11, Fundy August 31-September 1, and back to Kouchibouguac September 14-15. Play ball and party with the stars!

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 5:42 am and sunset will occur at 8:49 pm, giving 15 hours, 7 minutes of daylight (5:50 am and 8:51 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 5:35 am and set at 8:57 pm, giving 15 hours, 22 minutes of daylight (5:43 am and 8:59 pm in Saint John).

The first quarter Moon will be near Regulus on Monday, and on Tuesday a telescope could reveal Rupes Recta, a 110 km long fault line commonly called the Straight Wall. Venus will be within a binocular view to the right of the M35 star cluster on Sunday and above it on Monday. Their low altitude by the time twilight ends could make this a difficult observation. Late evening is prime time for observing Jupiter, with its moons shifting positions nightly for binocular viewers and its Red Spot facing telescope viewers on Sunday and Tuesday. Saturn is now rising before midnight and teams up with Mars for those who like to get up very early.

Local RASC NB members are hosting public observing at the Moncton High School Observatory on Friday, May 18 at 9 pm, with a cloud date of May 19. RASC NB meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre in Saint John on May 26 at 1 pm for astronomy talks. All are welcome.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at nasonc@nbnet.nb.ca.

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