New moon of May 2024 welcomes the stars of summer tonight

At the new moon of May 2024, the bright constellations of summer will rise, just as those of winter disappear below the horizon. That same night, Saturn, Mars and (for observers at more equatorial latitudes) Mercury will grace the early morning sky.

The timing of the moon’s phases depends on the moon’s position relative to the Earth, and not on one’s position on the Earth’s surface. This is why the time at which the new moon (or any other phase) occurs is based on one’s longitude and time zone.

According to the US Naval Observatory, the May new moon will occur on May 7 at 11:22 PM Eastern Daylight Time (0322 UTC on May 8), in New York. While the moon reaches its new phase at almost midnight in New York, it does so at 8:22 PM in Los Angeles. As one moves east, the date shifts to May 8; in Cape Town it is at 5:22 am and in New Delhi it is at 8:52 am, while in Tokyo it is in the afternoon at 1:22 pm

Related: What is the moon phase today? Moon phases 2024


A Celestron telescope on a white background

A Celestron telescope on a white background

Looking for a telescope to look at the night sky during New Monday? We recommend the Celestron Astro Fi 102 as the top choice in our best telescope for beginners guide.

The new moon phase occurs when the moon is directly between the Earth and the sun. During this phase, they share a celestial longitude, a projection of Earth’s longitude lines onto the sky, in an arrangement known as a conjunction.

When the sun and moon line up perfectly, the result is a solar eclipse; the next one will be released on October 2.

That usually doesn’t happen, because the moon’s orbit is slightly tilted — about 5 degrees — relative to the plane of Earth’s orbit. So it will not be possible to see the moon in its new phase, due to the glare of the sun and the fact that the moon is pointed away from us; even if we could see it, we would be looking at the dark side, which would just be black on a black background.

Visible planets

On the day of the new moon, the sun sets in New York at 7:59 p.m., according to the US Naval Observatory. If you go north, the sun sets later; if you go south, the opposite happens and it sets earlier; at this time of year the longer days that mark summer in the Northern Hemisphere begin to become apparent. For example, in Seattle, which is just seven latitudes north of New York City, the sun sets at 8:31 PM Pacific Daylight Time. Meanwhile, in Miami it is 7:56 PM local time.

The sunset becomes earlier as one moves south, because in the tropics, i.e. between the latitudes 23.5 degrees north (the Tropic of Cancer) and 23.5 degrees south (the Tropic of Capricorn), the day length increases over the course of the year. not much changes. as it does in more northern or southern regions. At these two latitudes the day length is between about 10 hours and 40 minutes and 13 hours and 34 minutes; Compare this to cities like Chicago, where the day lasts only 15 hours and 31 minutes and only 9 hours and 7 minutes. So as you get closer to the equator as summer approaches, the length of the day actually gets shorter and the sun seems to set earlier.

In the early hours of May 8, Saturn will be the first planet to rise, at 3:25 a.m. local time in New York City. Mars follows at 4:08 am. Last is Mercury, which rises at 4:53 am

Saturn, in the constellation Aquarius, reaches an altitude of 16 degrees around 5 a.m.; at this point the sky becomes light – sunrise in New York City is at 5:45 am. Mars is at that point to the left of Saturn, 10 degrees above the horizon, almost due east. Mercury is the hardest to spot; at 5:30 a.m. it will reach only 6 degrees of altitude; this will be the case for any location in the mid-northern latitudes (for example, New York City, Denver, Chicago, or Sacramento).

It’s easier to see the full planetary trio the closer you get to the equator; the steeper the angle the ecliptic (the plane of Earth’s orbit projected onto the sky) makes with the horizon, the higher they get before sunrise (this is also why tropical sunsets and sunrises tend to appear shorter ).

For example, from Belize City the sunrise is earlier – at 5:23 a.m. local time on May 8, but Saturn rises at 2:08 a.m. local time, Mars at 3:06 a.m. and Mercury at 4:03 a.m. That means that at 4:30 a.m. Saturn is 33 degrees high, Mars 20 degrees and Mercury 6 degrees above the horizon – the latter an easier-to-see target than in much of the United States or Europe.

an illustration of the night sky with Mars and Saturn visible in the early morning skyan illustration of the night sky with Mars and Saturn visible in the early morning sky

an illustration of the night sky with Mars and Saturn visible in the early morning sky

Star signs

Summer is approaching in mid-northern latitudes, and it won’t get completely dark in New York City or Chicago until around 9 p.m. local time. The timing will differ slightly depending on which side of the time zone one is on – for example, Detroit is on the west side of the Eastern time zone, so the sun appears to set at 8:40 PM even though it is almost the same latitude as New York, and some countries do not use daylight saving time.

The winter stars leave their room at 9 p.m. Castor and Pollux, which mark the heads of the famous Gemini, will still be visible low in the west; Procyon, the bright star in the Little Dog (Canis Minor), is below them and to the left. If you look due south (with Gemini to your right) and look up about two-thirds of the sky, you’ll see Leo the Lion, with the constellation’s alpha star, Regulus, at the bottom of the crescent group that marks the sky. Lion’s head.

Looking north, one can orient oneself with the Big Dipper almost directly above the northern horizon, with the bowl upside down and the two stars pointing to Polaris, the north star, on the left side of the bowl. The stars are called Dubhe and Merak, and Dubhe is the one closest to Polaris – you find Polaris by drawing a line between the two and continuing until you hit Polaris.

If you follow the handle of the Dipper, you can “bow to Arcturus” – a sweeping motion along the curve of the handle takes you there, to the brightest star in Boötes, the Herdsman. Continuing that arc, one finds Spica, the brightest star in Virgo. If you draw a line between Dubhe and Merak away from Polaris one reaches Leo, the Lion.

a star map with the Big Dipper above a diamond-shaped constellation of Virgoa star map with the Big Dipper above a diamond-shaped constellation of Virgo

a star map with the Big Dipper above a diamond-shaped constellation of Virgo

To the east, Vega, Lyra’s alpha star, Lyre, rises, about 10 degrees high by 9 p.m. local time. Vega is one of the three stars of the Summer Triangle, the others being Deneb, the brightest star in Cygnus, the Swan, and Altair, the eye of the Eagle. The last two will take off around 11:30 PM and will be high enough to be easily seen by midnight. The trio makes a rough right triangle with the narrowest point pointing south, so it’s a good direction finder, especially as it gets higher in the sky, and the Big Dipper can be used to orient oneself north.

Near midnight, looking southeast, about 12 to 15 degrees high (depending on how far north or south one is), one will see Antares, the brightest star (the “heart”) of Scorpius, the legendary scorpion that represents Orion, the hunter, killed. If you look above Antares, you can see three medium-bright stars that form the head of Scorpio. In dark sky locations above and to the left of Scorpio can be seen the fainter (but much larger) constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Keeper or Healer.

Ophiuchus can be recognized by a long trapezium of moderate to faint stars stretching above Scorpius; initially (around midnight) it will appear as if he is lying on his side. On either side of Ophiuchus are the constellations Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda, ​​the head (Caput) and tail (Cauda) of the snakes that Ophiuchus holds. Ophiuchus, also called Asclepius by the ancient Greeks, was the healer who brought Orion back to life after the Hunter was bitten by the Scorpion.

Winter is approaching in the Southern Hemisphere. In Cape Town, for example, the sun sets early, at 5:58 PM local time on May 8. That means the sky will get dark enough to see stars at 7 p.m. Observers in the mid-southern latitudes can see Orion and Gemini to the northwest. by then close to the horizon; Orion will be horizontal, with the belt’s three stars forming a vertical line; Gemini will be to the right (north) of Orion – both will appear “upside down” relative to what an observer in the Northern Hemisphere would see; this means that stars like Sirius, which is almost on the horizon in New York or Miami, are almost 50 degrees high in the west.

If you turn left (south), you will see Canopus at about the same height as Sirius; it is the brightest star in Carina, the ship’s keel. Keep turning east and you’ll see – again at a similar height above the horizon – the Southern Cross, and just below that is Alpha Centauri, also called Rigil Kentaurus (the “Rigel” of the Centaur). Alpha Centauri is the brightest star in Centaurus the Centaur and the closest stellar neighbor to the Sun. Above Alpha Centauri is Beta Centauri, or Hadar.

Scorpius – “upside down” from the Antipodians’ point of view – will rise in the southeast, lower on the horizon; it becomes fully visible around 8 p.m. A fainter constellation just above Scorpio and to the left (east) of Centaurus is Lupus, the Wolf.

Carina is the Kiel, if you look to the right you see the stars of Puppis, the Poop Deck. A broad circle of stars above Canopus is Vela, the sail; the brightest star is Gamma Velorum, above and to the left of Canopus. Below and to the left of Canopus is the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

The South Celestial Pole is located in the constellation Octans, the octant (an octant is an ancient astronomical instrument). There is no southern ‘polar star’; the alignment of Polaris with the north celestial pole is coincidental. One way to locate the pole is to use the “pointers” in Centaurus, Alpha and Beta Centauri. Draw a line from halfway between these two to another bright star, Achernar, the end of the Eridanus, the river, which will be close to the horizon in the southwest. The pole marks the halfway point.

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