Get outside with your telescope on clear May evenings to see celestial treats in the sky! With weather warming up and skies clearing up, there's no shortage of celestial delicacies to view. Here are a few of Orion's top suggestions for May observing:
- Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower - Get outside on the night of May 5th, or well before dawn on May 6th to catch the peak of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. You don't need a telescope to enjoy this meteor shower, which should deliver about one meteor per minute (60 per hour). Look for meteors appearing to radiate out of the water jug portion of the constellation Aquarius.
- Four Big Planetary Nebulas - Use a 6" or larger telescope and an O-III or UltraBlock filter to catch four relatively large planetary nebulas in May skies. See the "Ghost of Jupiter," NGC 3242 in Hydra; M97, "the Owl Nebula" in the Big Dipper; NGC 4361 in Corvus, and the famous "Ring Nebula", M57 in Lyra just a few degrees from bright star Vega.
- Four Glittering Globulars - Four picture-perfect examples of globular star clusters will be visible in May skies. Check out M3 in the constellation Bo÷tes. M13, the "Great Cluster in Hercules" will be visible near the zenith. M5 can be found in Serpens, and M92 in the northern section of Hercules. Big telescopes will provide the best views, but even 50mm binoculars will show you these dense balls of stars from a dark sky site.
- Four Face-On Spirals - Use large telescopes to see the classic pinwheel shapes of galaxies M51 and M101 in the Big Dipper asterism, and M99 and M100 in the Virgo galaxy cluster. There are also dozens of additional galaxies to explore in the Virgo cluster with a big-aperture telescope.
- May's Challenge Object - May skies present perhaps the best opportunities to grab a view of Omega Centauri - the brightest globular star cluster in the sky! While it's big and bright, even visible as a "fuzzy" star in binoculars, the challenge Omega Centauri presents is its low position in southern skies, which can make it unobservable from higher northern latitudes.
All objects described above can easily be seen with the suggested equipment from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars. All objects have been verified by actual observations by Orion Telescopes & Binoculars Staff at Fremont Peak State Park, and/or Deep Sky Ranch, 60 miles and 90 miles respectively from San Jose International Airport, San Jose, CA.