ASTRONOMY Night Sky In May
The night skies of this month would present pretty planets, stunning stars, captivating constellations and many other charismatic celestial entities that can be observed engrossingly all over the heavens. Glimpsing elusive planet Mercury would be difficult due to its proximity to the Sun. It would be scurrying across the western sky passing through the zodiacal constellations Pisces (fishes), Aires (ram) and Taurus (bull). The pleasing planet Venus could be perceived patiently for a short duration in eastern sky before sunrise. It would be dashing across Pisces and Aries. The charming constellation Cetus (sea monster) and Eridanus (river) would be unfolding unusually to the south of Venus. The ruddy planet Mars would be seen for a few hours in western sky after sunset. It would be marching magnificently from the celestial region occupied by constellation Taurus towards Gemini (twins). The alluring red-giant star Aldebaran (Rohini) would be glistening below Mars. It has been hosting a planet designated Aldebaran b, which is several times bigger than Jupiter. It could be barely 65 light-years away. On top of the parallel matchstick-resembling asterism (pattern sketched by stars), two gleaming stars Castor (Kasturi) and Pollux (Punarvasu) would represent the heads of Gemini. The fainter stars would outline the pair’s bodies. Pollux, a red giant star, would be fairly thirty three light-years and Castor would be merely fifty one light-years away from us. One light-year is defined as the distance that light would travel in a year, which is whooping 9.6 trillion kilometers. Pollux would have at least one massive planet lumbering around it and Castor would have two companion stars. Castor and Pollux would be coruscating above Mars. Constellations Orion (hunter), Monoceros (unicorn) and Canis Minor (lesser dog) would be sprawling splendidly with their spectacularly shining stars below Taurus and Gemini,
The mighty planet Jupiter would enter southeastern sky late at night. It could be admired awesomely till daybreak in southwestern sky among the stars residing in broad constellation Ophiuchus (serpent bearer). Similarly, the ringed planet Saturn would climb southeastern sky very late after nightfall. It could be followed among the stars of constellation Sagittarius (archer) till dawn in southwestern sky. The perplexing dwarf planet Pluto could be spotted to the east of Saturn. Far-away greenish planet Uranus would be lost in solar glare. Viewing it in constellation Aries would not be so easy. The Great Square of Pegasus (winged horse) and adjoining constellation Andromeda (chained princess) would be spreading superbly above Pisces and Aries. The distant bluish planet Neptune could be noticed in southeastern sky before the morning twilight. It would be cavorting with the stars staying on the eastern side of Aquarius (water bearer). The new moon would be on 04 May, while the full moon would mesmerize moon-hunters on 18 May. It has been popularly dubbed as the full flower moon because during this time of year spring flowers would be blooming in abundance. Since this full moon which has been also nicknamed the full corn planting moon or the milk moon would be counted as the third of four full moons in this season and be recognized as the mysterious blue moon. This calendar event would be marked as a rare happening once in every few years. Thus, it would allude to the expression “once in a blue moon”. Normally three full moons would occur in each season (preferably from equinox to solstice or vice versa) of the year. Since full moons could be evinced every 29.53 days, occasionally a season could have four full moons. This extra full moon of the season would be manifested as the blue moon. Blue moons could be acknowledged on average once in every 2.7 years. Likewise, Mother’s Day and Buddha Jayanti would be celebrated joyfully with veneration on 04 and 18 May 2019 respectively.
An average Eta Aquarid meteor shower could display up to sixty meteors per hour at its peak which would befall from the night of 06 till the morning of 07 May. The flashes of shooting stars would be produced by dust particles left behind by the iconic comet 1P/Halley, which has been known and astounded since ancient times. When the earth would drift through a cloud of debris left behind by a visiting comet (in this case, the little bits of cosmic crumbs enflame high in our atmosphere are the remnants of comet Halley with orbital period of circa 76 years) Eta Aquarids would be witnessed. The shower would generally run annually from 19 April till 28 May. The thin crescent moon would set early in the evening leaving dark skies for exhibiting a good entertaining show. The meteors would apparently exude from the radiant point dwelling in the constellation Aquarius (in our example, below the eastern horizon at midnight).
Annual meteor showers arise when earth would tumble through streams of dregs of comets and asteroids. As tiny pebble-sized pieces would collide with the earth atmosphere, they would burn up at an altitude of around seventy to one hundred kilometers, appearing as shooting stars. By determining the speed and direction at which the meteors impact the earth, it would be possible to calculate the path of the stream through Solar System and identify the body responsible for creating it. The progenitor of Eta Aquarids has been associated with Halley’s Comet. For clarification, an asteroid would be a small stony object that would zoom around the Sun. Most of them would be located in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter), but they could be found anywhere in space. When two asteroids would hit each other, the minute chunks would break off and would be called meteoroids. If a meteoroid would crash into the earth’s atmosphere, it would begin to ignite and vaporize and then look like a streak of light in the sky to become a meteor. If a meteoroid would not disintegrate completely and survive its fiery trip through earth’s atmosphere, it would land on the earth. It would be addressed as a meteorite. Like asteroids, a comet would revolve around the Sun. However, rather than being composed mostly of rock, a comet would contain copious amounts of ice and gas, which could result in amazingly tantalizing tails forming behind them caused by the vaporizing ice, dusty and volatile matters that are being carried curiously by the comet.
Enhancing our country’s prestige for the first time in our history, a Nepali satellite named NepaliSat-1 has been launched successfully under Birds-3 satellite lift-off to International Space Station (ISS) project atop Antares rocket, which deployed the Cygnus cargo aircraft from the Virginia Air and Space Centre of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This nano-satellite has been developed by Nepali student-duo studying at Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. The satellite has been equipped with a five Mega Pixel camera for investigating Nepal’s topography and a magnetometer for gleaning information related to the earth’s magnetic field. A nano-satellite would weigh approximately one to ten kilograms. The cube-shaped NepaliSat-1 would be sparsely 1.3 kilograms. The satellite would first reach the International Space Station (ISS) and then start rotating around the earth after a month. It would be allegedly released into the lower orbit of ISS probably in the second week of June. The Nepali scientists and experts would be exchanging and communicating data between satellite that would rush around the earth for one year and the ground station, which is currently being constructed at the premises of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). Thus, they would be learning to manage and develop professionally many sophisticated satellites for our diverse needs and space exploration with pride and humility in future. Furthermore, the satellite’s performance and its smooth functioning would be also closely studied and scrutinized. The total outlay for NepaliSat-1 venture would amount to about twenty million Nepali rupees (equivalent to US Dollars 179,915). A group of four ardent engineering graduates have been preparing for the launch of another Nepali satellite Nepal PQ-1 in 2020. Similarly, Sri Lanka’s first-ever nano-satellite called Raavana-1 has been also lofted alongside NepaliSat-1.