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What's up in the Sky May '09

posted Apr 30, 2009, 10:39 AM by Marvin Stewart
            Saturday night was our club's outreach night at St. Charles County's Broemmelsiek Park ( 4/25/09). The clouds were blowing in as we set up our equipment at sunset. The forecast wasn't encouraging either, still there were people waiting to visit with us while we set up and to look through our scopes.  By sunset the clouds were thick and wind would move the scopes. The faithful had gathered again Jim Twellman, John Furlong, Amy White with some of her students, Will Day, with a friend, John Sguaros, Kirk Steinbruegge with his immediate family and myself. Several of our guest have become groupies and have been to several of our events, and a few comments were made about seeing us next time. One young lady said she " recognized my voice."  In mock horror I replied "I've been busted!" She has been there several times before and we've never seen each other in daylight. By time we began to pack up some forty people had been our guest, and some eight telescopes had been aimed at Saturn, which was about the only thing visible most of the night. I didn't hear any complaints though, just a lot of thank yous.
            On the drive home I started thinking about the impact ASEM and we as individuals are having. St. Charles County Parks Dept. saw the impact and built the viewing site in Broemmelsiek Park.  I spoke with one of the  Park Activity Directors at the Earth Day event at the old court house who said that, "more people use the astronomy site at Brommelsiek than the rest of the park. On a decent night the pads are full." Our members and our leader, Jim Roe, made this possible, and we should be proud.
            I have my own story about giving someone the gift of astronomy, and I have never met or seen him. Ron worked with my brother in law at the Potlatch saw mill in Lewiston, Idaho. My brother -in -law, Derald, Ron and a couple of other buddies decided to spend a weekend fishing for steel head on the Snake River. They had a miserable trip and caught nothing. Looking for something to do at night, Ron began to read the ASTRONOMY magazines Sis had stashed in the trailer. I had subscribed to ASTRONOMY Magazine as a Christmas gift to my sister, Sis had kept the magazines in the trailer so they were available when she and Derald went camping. Later in the evening Ron went out in the dark with the magazines and was holding them up trying to find stars and constellations in the night sky. The next week at work Ron informed Derald he had bought a book on astronomy.
             Several months passed, the two un- named members of the party were now camped on the shore of Coeur D' Alene Lake, just across the Idaho border, and near Spokane, Washington.  At sunset they spotted a house boat in the middle of the lake, they were able to identify it as belonging to Ron.. Darkness fell and the two campers observed that no lights had come on in the house boat and the running lights weren't on either. Rising to their feet, they weighed what they should do, and still hoping the lights would be turned on. Finally deciding the best thing would be to go out and take a look. Fearing the worst, they started up their small boat and headed out onto the lake. As they approached the house boat they heard voices. There, safe and sound, was Ron and his adult son on the roof deck of the house boat.  Ron was showing his son the stars with binoculars.
             May   01  Mercury is less than 2 deg from the center of the Pleiades. You can find it at dusk, with binoculars, in the west.
                              The Moon also begins to descend below the equator. It will ride high in the southern winter sky in June.
                       02  Venus in a crescent phase is at its greatest illumination.
                       03  The Moon will spend the second and third in Leo. It will be near Regulus the second, and Saturn on the third.
                       09  Full Moon.
                       17  Last Quarter Moon.
                              The Moon is near Jupiter, from 3:56 to 5:16 am. CDT look for the shadows of Io and Callisto to cross Jupiter.
                              Saturn resumes it's normal eastward motion.
                       20  Jupiter is near Mu Capricorn, which appears as a fifth moon of Jupiter. Slightly more than half a degree to the left is Neptune at eighth mag.
                       21  At dawn the crescent Moon forms a triangle with Venus and Mars.
                       24  New Moon.
                 25-29  Jupiter passes about 30' south of Neptune near dawn.
                      27   Dusk, The Moon forms an arc with Pollux and Castor in the west.
                 29-30  Look for the Moon in Leo again to pass Regulus and Saturn.