Skywatcher and Astronomy highlights for Charlotte

Thank you to NASA ambassador Tony Rice for providing the weekly Astronomical highlights for Charlotte.

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  • Russian ground controllers have given up on regaining contact with the Progress M-27M. The craft is expected to reenter within the next weeks. Odds are this will happen over water. NORAD is tracking 16 objects related to the launch, far more than usual.
  • The Moon and Saturn will appear very close to one another the evening of Tue May 5. The Aquarid meteor show also reaches its peak that night.
  • This week and next continue to be a good time to see Mercury with the naked eye, about 30 minutes after sunset. Unfortunately, the new crater created by the MESSENGER spacecraft won’t be visible to telescopes for several weeks.


  • May 12 Curtiss Cross, an X-shaped illumination effect located between the craters Parry and Gambart
  • Mon May 11 06:36:06: last quarter moon

Planet visibility

body (phase)risetransit (alt)setconstellation
Mercury (46%)07:11:3614:42:26 (73°)22:11:46Taurus
Venus (66%)08:36:2216:17:37 (76°)23:57:44Taurus
Moon (99%)20:58:5801:26:16 (36°)06:47:46Libra
Mars06:51:0914:02:44 (69°)21:15:02Taurus
Saturn21:44:5502:40:45 (31°)07:36:37Scorpius
Jupiter12:33:0719:37:55 (67°)02:46:22Cancer

Sample rise/set times for 05/04/15

Satellite passes

International Space Station (ISS)

  • poor pass begins Wed 2015-05-13 05:08:21 from the SSW (196°) reaches 28°, lasts 6 minutes
  • outstanding pass begins Fri 2015-05-15 04:56:05 from the SW (219°) reaches 66°, lasts 5 minutes
  • fair pass begins Sat 2015-05-16 04:03:33 from the SE (135°) reaches 31°, lasts 3 minutes
  • good pass begins Sun 2015-05-17 04:43:25 from the WSW (257°) reaches 54°, lasts 5 minutes

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

no visible HST passes predicted during this period

See Heavens Above for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of pass. Higher altitude passes are closers to the observer and generally brighter as a result. Satellites other than ISS are much more difficult to spot.

Moon Phases

Sun 2015-05-03 23:42:04full
Mon 2015-05-11 06:36:06last quarter
Mon 2015-05-18 00:13:13new
Mon 2015-05-25 13:18:49first quarter



DateRiseSolar noon (alt)Setsunlight
Mon 2015-05-0406:1813:19 (65.65°)20:2114 hrs 2 min
Tue 2015-05-0506:1713:19 (65.93°)20:2214 hrs 4 min
Wed 2015-05-0606:1613:19 (66.21°)20:2314 hrs 6 min
Thu 2015-05-0706:1513:19 (66.49°)20:2414 hrs 8 min
Fri 2015-05-0806:1413:19 (66.77°)20:2514 hrs 11 min
Sat 2015-05-0906:1313:19 (67.03°)20:2614 hrs 13 min
Sun 2015-05-1006:1213:19 (67.30°)20:2714 hrs 15 min
Mon 2015-05-1106:1113:19 (67.55°)20:2814 hrs 17 min
Tue 2015-05-1206:1013:19 (67.81°)20:2914 hrs 19 min
Wed 2015-05-1306:0913:19 (68.06°)20:3014 hrs 21 min
  • gained 0:18:55 (hh:mm:ss) of daylight over this period
  • daylight (HH:MM): 14:11
  • mean: sunrise 06:14 sunset 20:26
  • max: sun angle 68.06°


Mon 2015-05-0404:3122:07
Tue 2015-05-0504:2922:08
Wed 2015-05-0604:2722:10
Thu 2015-05-0704:2522:11
Fri 2015-05-0804:2422:13
Sat 2015-05-0904:2222:14
Sun 2015-05-1004:2122:16
Mon 2015-05-1104:1922:17
Tue 2015-05-1204:1722:19
Wed 2015-05-1304:1622:21

Astronomical Seasons

  • autumnal equinox: Wed 2015-09-23 04:20
  • summer solstice: Sun 2015-06-21 12:38

Meteor Showers

Meteor Showers Peaking this period

nameratingstartpeakendzhr*speed (mi/s)qualitymoon at peakparent body
Eta AquariidsmoderateApr 19Tue May 05May 286566bright↑ Tue 9:39 PM 05/05/15
94% full
↓Wed 8:15 AM
Omega CetidsminorMay 05Thu May 07Jun 09838↑ Thu 11:28 PM 05/07/15
79% full
↓Fri 10:02 AM
Eta LyridsminorMay 03Fri May 08May 14343faint↑ Sat 12:19 AM 05/09/15
69% full
↓Sat 11:02 AM

Meteor Showers Underway this period

nameratingstartpeakendzhr*speed (mi/s)qualitymoon at peakparent body
Eta AquariidsmoderateApr 19Tue May 05May 286566bright↑ Tue 9:39 PM 05/05/15
94% full
↓Wed 8:15 AM
Alpha ScorpiidsminorApr 21Fri May 15May 26333↑ Sat 5:09 AM 05/16/15
2% full
↓Sat 6:43 PM
Eta LyridsminorMay 03Fri May 08May 14343faint↑ Sat 12:19 AM 05/09/15
69% full
↓Sat 11:02 AM
Daytime Eps. ArietidsminorMay 04Fri May 15Jun 06423↑ Sat 5:09 AM 05/16/15
2% full
↓Sat 6:43 PM
Daytime May ArietidsminorMay 04Fri May 15Jun 06428↑ Sat 5:09 AM 05/16/15
2% full
↓Sat 6:43 PM
Omega CetidsminorMay 05Thu May 07Jun 09838↑ Thu 11:28 PM 05/07/15
79% full
↓Fri 10:02 AM

Next Major Meteor Showers

nameratingstartpeakendzhr*speed (mi/s)qualitymoon at peakparent body
PerseidsmajorJul 17Wed Aug 12Aug 2410059bright↑ Thu 5:37 AM 08/13/15
0% full
↓Thu 7:24 PM
GeminidsmajorDec 07Sun Dec 13Dec 1712035medium↑ Mon 9:39 AM 12/14/15
7% full
↓Sun 7:29 PM
C/1964 N1 (Ikeya)

see: International Meteor Organization calendar for details. ZHR is a rough prediction and represents optimal viewing conditions (clear dark sky, radiant directly overhead). Green rows are the best viewing

Aerospace Calendar



  • May 04 Launch of Lunar Orbiter 4, one of five successful pre-Apollo orbital reconnaissance missions. 48 years ago
  • May 04 Launch of STS-30 Space Shuttle Atlantis, carrying the Magellan Venus orbiter, which proved to be phenomenally successful. 26 years ago
  • May 04 Launch of the Aqua satellite, designed to study details of the Earth’s hydrologic cycle. The spacecraft was formerly known as ‘EOS PM-1.’ 13 years ago
  • May 04 Launch of the LAGEOS geodesy satellite. 39 years ago
  • May 05 Alan B. Shepard became the first American in Space! 54 years ago
  • May 06 Neil Armstrong, who would become the first human to walk on the Moon fourteen months hence, ejected safely from a malfunctioning Lunar Lander Research Vehicle 1 just before it crashed. 47 years ago
  • May 07 Launch of STS-49 Space Shuttle Endeavour, which would capture wayward satellite Intelsat 6, attach a booster pack, and send it to its proper orbit. 23 years ago
  • May 07 Launch of Telstar 2, a very early communications satellite, but also a probe of the Van Allen radiation belts. 52 years ago
  • May 09 Hayabusa (aka Muses-C) launched from Kagoshima Space Center, Japan and became the first spacecraft to lift off from an asteroid and return to Earth with a sample. Propelled by an ion engine, Hayabusa survived a solar flare to land the rubble-pile asteroid Itokawa on 20 November 2005, at about 300 million km from Earth. Though a released MINERVA mini-lander was lost, a scooped sample of the asteroid was returned to Earth on 13 June 2010 in a successfully recovered capsule. 12 years ago
  • May 09 Launch of Luna 5. It would crash into the Moon in a failed attempt at a robotic soft landing. 50 years ago
  • May 09 Launch of Mariner 8, intended as a companion to Mariner 9, both targeting Mars. Its booster malfunctioned, and Mariner 8 failed to reach orbit. The Mariner 9 mission was altered to allow a single spacecraft to accomplish most of the joint mission objectives. 44 years ago
  • May 10 ‘We can rebuild him.’ Experimental aircraft ‘lifting body’ M2-F2 crashed on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards AFB, severely injuring pilot Bruce Peterson. Footage of the crash was later used in the opening credits of The Six Million Dollar Man. In reality, the aircraft was rebuilt, but the pilot was not; Peterson’s injuries eventually ended his piloting career. 48 years ago
  • May 11 Launch of STS-125 Space Shuttle Atlantis on the final repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Onboard are astronauts Scott D. Altman, commander; Gregory C. Johnson, pilot; Andrew J. Feustel, Michael T. Good, John M. Grunsfeld, Michael J. Massimino, and K. Megan McArthur, all mission specialists. 6 years ago
  • May 13 Launch of Apollo A-001, a flying test of the capsule escape rocket system, aboard a “Little Joe II” booster, at White Sands. 51 years ago
  • May 13 The first and to date only three-person extra-vehicular activity (EVA) was performed during Space Shuttle Endeavour mission STS-49. Astronauts successfully hand captured a stranded INTELSAT VI satellite, attached a new perigee kick motor while in the payload bay, and then re-deployed the spacecraft for operational use. 23 years ago

Covers Mon 2015-05-04 01:00 through Thu 2015-05-14 01:00 . Calculations are for Charlotte, NC (40.3690,-80.6330) at an elevation of 215 m and are expressed in local (US/Eastern) time and a 24 hour clock.