May brings clearer night skies

The showers and storms of April are over and, even though the severe storm season isn't yet past for Oklahoma, the night sky generally offers greater opportunity to observe celestial events.
BY WAYNE HARRIS-WYRICK wwyrick@sciencemuseumok.org Published: May 7, 2013
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And, by the way, the traditional answer to the riddle is “pilgrims.” Or, “June bugs,” depending upon your level of sophistication.

Solar eclipse

On Thursday, the new moon passes directly in front of the sun, creating a solar eclipse. For this one, the moon is a bit farther away than average and won't quite cover the sun's disk. A ring of sunlight, an annulus, will surround the invisible moon, creating an annular eclipse.

These are very dramatic, visually. A ring of fire floats in the daytime sky where the sun should be. Unfortunately, unless you are on vacation in Australia or New Guinea, you won't get to see it.

Astronomy notes

All things astronomical can be found in the program “Tonight's Sky” in the Kirkpatrick Planetarium Star Theater. Call 602-3761 or visit our website at www.sciencemuseumok.org for information.

The Oklahoma City Astronomy Club meets at 6:45 p.m. Friday. Guests are welcome.

Planet visibility report: Venus returns as the brilliant “Evening Star” by the end of May. Mercury also makes a brief appearance in the evening twilight starting the end of the month and reaches its best view by the middle of next month. Mars is still lost in morning twilight's bright glare as Jupiter slides into the evening twilight. Saturn is the lone planetary luminary visible in the dark, night sky. It's up in the east at sunset and remains visible virtually all night. New moon occurs Wednesday with the annular eclipse, and full moon follows on May 24.

Wayne Harris-Wyrick is director of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma. Questions or comments may be emailed to wwyrick@sciencemuseumok.org.

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