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What's Up in the Sky, May, 2010

posted Apr 29, 2010, 9:49 AM by Marvin Stewart
              On January 17, 1994 southern California was rocked by a 6.7 earthquake at 4:31 A.M. Pacific standard time. This strong quake knocked out the electricity in Los Angeles. As people stumbled out of their homes into the streets what they saw in the night sky frightened some of them enough to call the Mount Wilson and ask, " did the earth quake cause that bright streak in the sky?  Urban dwellers have lost something, the simple joy of looking up at night and seeing stars and the Milky Way..
              This bright streak of stars has intrigued mankind for a very long time. All civilizations have looked at it in wonder. Our name for it comes from the Greeks, but the Chinese, Japanese, Mayans and the people of the Middle East were intrigued by it. Galileo was the first person to look at through a telescope and determine it was made up of closely packed stars.  Still the number of people that haven't seen it is staggering.
              If the Earth were transparent  we could look through it and see that the Milky way is inclined about 60 degrees to the ecliptic, This gives us some interesting views of our home galaxy  In the middle of May it arches overhead from east to west. In August it runs overhead from north to south. and gives us our best views of the center of our galaxy low in the southern sky. In August the Nebraska Star Party is held near Valentine, Nebraska in Cherry County which is is in the first tier of counties below South Dakota. Here the night sky remain as our ancesters saw them over a hundred years ago, and their main attraction is the southern Milky way, bright enough to cast shadows on the ground.
             Our home galaxy is beautiful take some time this summer to go outside at night in dark area and just look up.
             Another highlight this month look at Saturn, east and below Leo, the rings are still almost edge on.
   06      Eta Aquarid  meteor shower, the Moon at last quarter makes it unfavorable viewing.
   09      lyrid meteor shower, the Moon is favorable to see meteors all night, Peak is the 11TH.
   10      Mercury stands still begins eastward on the 12TH.
   14      New Moon.
   19      The Moon is just south and west of the Beehive Cluster.
   20      The Moon is in first quarter.
   22      Venus is at its greatest declination.
   31      Saturn resumes eastward motion.