May 2024 – What’s Up!

Week of 20th May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 00:23 BST at the start of the week and by Thursday, Astronomical Twilight does not end until 21st July.
  • As Astronomical Darkness ends, we move into the peak solar observing period. Use a solar filter to keep track of the highly active Sun. Active Regions 3685 and 3686 are currently making their way across the face of the Sun.
  • We are also moving into noctilucent cloud season, which peaks around the Summer Solstice. Keep an eye on the area above the northern horizon about an hour or so after sunset (around 21:00 BST this week) to spot these beautiful pearlescent high altitude clouds.
  • The Moon is Full on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 9 active regions and the sunspot number is 166.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 13th May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23:48 BST at the start of the week and at 00:23 BST by the end of the week.
  • Following the most spectacular and rare display last Friday night of the Aurora Borealis, reaching down to extreme southerly latitudes including Marlborough, hopes are high for a repeat performance. Whilst the Sun is crackling with activity, it is highly unlikely – that was a once in 20 years event!
  • Use a special solar filter to keep an eye on activity on the Sun. AR 3664, the ‘Great Display’ active region is approaching the off going limb, but new AR 3674 is rotating into view, making the Sun a dynamic and fascinating star to observe (safely, of course!).
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Wednesday.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 148.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 6th May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23:19 BST at the start of the week and at 23:44 BST by the end of the week.
  • Mercury is at Greatest Western Elongation on Thursday, its greatest angular separation from the Sun, making it visible in the morning sky. Look about 6° above the eastern horizon just before sunrise, which is at 05:13 BST.
  • Make the most of the New Moon dark skies and search out two fabulous globular clusters in Hercules. First, M13, the Great Hercules Cluster, at mag +5.8 and 23,000 light years away, then nudge a few degrees northeast to M92, mag +6.4 and 27,000 light years from Earth.
  • The Moon is New on Wednesday.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 136.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).