Celestial events in the skies for the week of May 29-June 4, as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
Summer is officially three weeks away, and we are already experiencing the benefits of extended daylight to enjoy our outdoor activities. The Moon makes a big impression this week going to Full Phase on Wednesday, making us all look up, so enjoy the moonshine! The Moon makes a low arc across the southern Zodiac, tinting the globe with golden light as it filters through the Earth’s atmosphere. This honey colored Moon might be responsible for the social term “honeymoon” for the frolicking nights of newlyweds married in the popular month of June. Native Americans called the full phase in May the “Flower Moon,” “Corn Planting Moon” or “Milk Moon.” The next Full Moon on June 28th, a Thursday, will be the “Strawberry Moon”—yum!
Tuesday, May 29
Full Moon today, and the Moon rises in the deep twilight tonight, and Wednesday when at Full Phase it will rise about when the Sun sets. This sets up a photo opportunity for all you Shutterbugs. Enjoy the photographic challenge of making an exposure that balances the dark seas of the Moon and the landscape—don’t overexpose the Moon, then it’ll look just like a big flashlight in the sky! And be sure to photoshop out the picture highlights, you won’t believe how much lunar detail comes out.
Wednesday, May 30
The bright Moon this week doesn’t take away the spectacular brightness that is Jupiter rising in the southeast. Even a pair of binoculars held steady will reveal the Jovian globe and its four, star-like moons.
Thursday, May 31
Full Moon is today, and with the long winter behind us, it is truly a time for a “Moondance,” as the popular Van Morrison sings. Our eyes are drawn upward to our celestial neighbor, if just for a few seconds, to remind us that Earth is not alone in the Solar System, and with a partner that influences life through ocean tides and night light for creatures to hunt.
Friday, June 1
Look north and the Big Dipper asterism of Ursa Major, it is known as The Plow in Great Britain. The outer stars of the bowl point to the North Star, Polaris, and the handle arcs to the star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes the Herdsman.
Saturday, June 2
Keep following that curve of the Big Dipper’s handle through orangish Arcturus and to bright, white Spica in Virgo the Virgin. The old amateur astronomer’s axiom is “Follow the handle, arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica.”
Sunday, June 3
The constellation Bootes (BOO-oh-tez) looks either like an ice cream cone or a kite with Arcturus anchoring at the bottom. It’s an ancient constellation with unknown origins dating maybe as far back as 4,000 years ago. And a strange name for a man, as Bootes is a “herdsman,” possibly herding Ursa Major around the sky. I’ve wondered if maybe Bootes invented the wheel?
Monday, June 4
On this 1965 date in space history, Gemini IV was launched with Gus Grissom in command and Ed White taking the first American spacewalk—an iconic image of the Space Age. Both tragically died in a flash fire inside their Apollo 1 spacecraft during launch pad tests in January 1967. Also launched this date a year later in 1966 was Gemini IX with Tom Stafford, 88, and Gene Cernan, deceased. Their mission was full of problems, including a-bad docking target rocket and an unsuccessful spacewalk by Cernan when his visor fogged up.