May is the month for meteors, Mercury, and moons!
On Tuesday late evening, May 4 into early morning Wednesday, May 5, the Eta Aquarids meteor shower will hit the peak as they streak across the skies. The shower is capable to produce around 60 meteors an hour in the Southern Hemisphere; however, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are more likely to see about half of that, 30 meteors an hour.
The best time to see them will be the wee hours of May 5, but, the meteor show will actually last until May 31.
The Eta Aquarids radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but the meteors are visible anywhere in the sky. This meteor shower is made up of rock and debris left behind by Halley's Comet, which won't return to the inner solar system until 2061.
If you want to check out the meteors, it's best to get away from as many lights as possible and spend at least 30 minutes in the dark to let your eyes adjust. Even if you can only step out on your back porch, give your eyes the time to adjust, and you'll have a better chance of seeing a shooting star.
The Eta Aquarids are not all that will be making a wonderful night sky appearance this month!
Mercury will be visible in the night sky on the evening of Thursday, May 13. It will appear very close to the crescent moon and will show up as a fairly bright star, easiest seen as dusk heads to dark.
The big show this month, in addition to the meteors, will come on Wednesday, May 26. The full moon on that night is the Super Flower Moon, which is the extra-big, extra-bright moon is the last of the supermoons for 2021. It's known as the Flower Moon to signal all the blooms that May brings. It's also known as the full-corn planting moon or the milk moon, which comes from the plentiful milk livestock produce after eating all the wonderful new greenery.
BUT, that's not the most exciting part of the full moon! It also coincides with a total lunar eclipse—making it a Super Blood Moon due to the red appearance the eclipse causes. It won't be totally visible to everyone, but those in the Western states will get an eyeful.
"This total lunar eclipse occurs in the very early morning hours of May 26 and will be visible for stargazers in western North America, western South America, eastern Asia, and Oceania. In the U.S., those who are located east of the Mississippi will experience a partial lunar eclipse instead," said almanac.com.
Will you be doing a little gazing at the stars and moon this month? Do you watch the astronomical events with your eyes, set up a telescope, or go to one of the local observatories for a closer look? In the comments, share any tips and tricks to catch these events in all their glory!