A Victoria Day meteor shower

Dunlap_ObservatoryBy Mario Carr

Canadians aren’t the only ones celebrating Victoria Day with fireworks.

This year, Mother Nature is also into the festivities with a new meteor shower of her own lighting up the May 24 morning sky. The LINEAR meteor shower is expected to peak at 2:30 a.m. and we could see up to 400 meters per hour in the northern sky. It’s created by debris falling to Earth from Comet 2009/LINEAR and could be the best meteor shower of the year.

Like comets, meteor showers are extremely unpredictable but if everything goes as planned it could be the start of a new annual tradition.

Here are May stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Planet watching

Mercury reappears in the evening sky in May and makes it best appearance of the year for three weeks after the 15th. Venus is the brightest object after the Moon in the eastern morning sky. Mars is bright and can be seen high in the south after sunset. It’s a good time to see the planet, since it won’t be this close until 2016. Jupiter is low in the western evening sky setting around midnight. Saturn is in the southeast evening sky.

May 3 – The crescent Moon is below Jupiter in the evening sky.

May 5 –Eta Aquird meteor shower peaks

May 6 – First Quarter Moon

May 9 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission with door prizes and everyone is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected. Speaker will be McMaster PhD student Rory Woods, who will review computers in astronomy in a presentation called Welcoming Our Computer Overlords in Astronomy.

May 10 – Saturn is at opposition, bright and closets to the Earth for 2014. It can be seen rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. The Moon is also close to Mars in the evening sky.

May 13 – The Moon is close to Saturn in the evening sky.

May 14 – Full Moon

May 25 – Mercury is at its highest point above the Sun in the western evening twilight sky making it easier to see. The Moon is close and above Venus.

May 30 – The crescent Moon is left of Mercury low in the evening sky.

May 31 – The Moon is below Jupiter in the evening sky. For the next four nights, the Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn line up in the evening sky.

For more information, please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. If you would like to learn more about the night sky, the club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of public education and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca.

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About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of public education for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at www.carrmarketinggroup.com or mariocarr@cogeco.ca.
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