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What's Up? – May 2018

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What’s Up For May?

The Moon and Saturn meet Mars in the morning as our InSight spacecraft launches to the Red Planet on May 5!

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You won’t want to miss red Mars in the southern morning skies this month.

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InSight, our first mission to explore Mars’ deep interior, launches on May 5th with a launch window that begins at 4:05 a.m. PDT and lasts for two hours.

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Some lucky viewers in central and southern California and even parts of the Mexican Pacific coast will get a chance to see the spacecraft launch with their unaided eyes AND its destination, Mars, at the same time.

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Mars shines a little brighter than last month, as it approaches opposition on July 27th. That’s when Mars and the Sun will be on opposite sides of the Earth. This will be Mars’ closest approach to Earth since 2003! 

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Compare the planet’s increases in brightness with your own eyes between now and July 27th. 

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The Eta Aquarid meteor shower will be washed out by the Moon this month, but if you are awake for the InSight launch anyway, have a look. This shower is better viewed from the southern hemisphere, but medium rates of 10 to 30 meteors per hour MAY be seen before dawn.

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Of course, you could travel to the South Pacific to see the shower at its best!

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There’s no sharp peak to this shower–just several nights with good rates, centered on May 6th. 

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Jupiter reaches opposition on May 9th, heralding the best Jupiter-observing season, especially for mid-evening viewing. That’s because the king of the planets rises at sunset and sets at dawn. 

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Wait a few hours after sunset, when Jupiter is higher in the sky, for the best views. If you viewed Jupiter last month, expect the view to be even better this month!

Watch the full What’s Up for May Video: 

There are so many sights to see in the sky. To stay informed, subscribe to our What’s Up video series on Facebook.

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Source: NASA

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What's Up? – May 2018

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