On May 5th and early May 6th two terrestrial occurrences will take place. At 11:35 EDT on Saturday, May 5th the moon will become full, and 25 minutes later the moon will reach its closest approach or perigee to earth at a distance of 221,802 miles away. That’s about 15,300 miles closer than average. For Arizona viewers the full moon will take place at 8:35 PM and the super moon at 9:00 PM
The effect of this coincidence will be a stunning sight called “super-moon”. This approach of the moon will be the closest in 2012 to earth. The moon will be approximately 14% bigger and 30% brighter during the event.
At the same time as the super-moon, the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower is expected to hit its peak. Although the bright moonlight will obscure some of the meteors, NASA scientists predict that 40 to 60 of the brightest fireballs will still be visible.
In November 2012 the moon will reach it farthest perigee from earth.
Five planets can be viewed in the night sky during the month of May. Saturn reigns high in the southern sky about 9:00 PM. By month’s end, Saturn starts the night in the southwestern sky.
Early risers will see Jupiter, Mars and Venus. Find Jupiter low on the southeastern horizon. The gaseous, negative second magnitude object (very bright) rises earlier and thus becomes higher in the eastern morning sky throughout May.
After Jupiter has risen, Venus and Mars skate along the edge of dawn throughout May. Venus, at negative fourth magnitude, is the brightest object in the heavens behind the sun and the fat moon. Find Venus above the eastern horizon before sunrise. Mars is to the lower left of Venus in eastern heavens, closer to the twilight and trickier to find. Our reddish neighbor is significantly more faint than Venus.
Mercury is visible soon after sunset but only in the early days of May. You’ll find this fleet planet in the northwestern sky immediately after sundown, but you’ll need a clear horizon to find it. Then it sinks into obscurity and hides in the sun’s glare.
images courtesy of usatoday.com & discovery.com