The sun, Earth and moon will align to create an eerie sight in the middle of the month, while the final meteor shower of the spring will take place in the early stages of May.
Temperatures are rising and more people are spending time outside. Folks heading outdoors after the sun has set will have plenty of celestial events to look for in the night sky.
In addition to the upcoming events in outer space, Saturday, May 7, marks International Astronomy Day. The bi-annual holiday was founded to raise awareness about the night sky and takes place every year in May and October. The exact dates vary from year to year, so the sky celebrations take place when the moon is in the first quarter phase, according to National Today.
This year, the first International Astronomy Day falls on the first full weekend of May, making for a good opportunity for families to take some time to step outside to enjoy the star-studded sky and views of the moon. The second event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 1.
Here are the top astronomy events to mark on your calendar in May:
May 5-6: Eta Aquarid meteor shower
For the second time in as many weeks, meteors will streak through the night sky as the Eta Aquarid meteor shower reaches its peak during the night of Thursday, May 5, into the early hours of Friday, May 6. This comes right on the heels of the Lyrids, which peaked on Thursday, April 21, into Friday, April 22.
Observers north of the equator can expect between 10 and 30 meteors per hour on the peak night with the best viewing window occurring between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., local time, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).
If cloudy weather develops on the night of the peak, eager stargazers can still catch part of the meteor shower through the weekend and into the second week of May.
“While the peak is predicted to occur on May 5 and 6, the week centered on these dates will also provide rates near 10 per hour,” the AMS said.
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower will be the second and final of the spring with the next one not taking place until the end of July.
May 15-16: Total Lunar Eclipse
One of the top astronomy events of 2022 will be visible in the sky over North America in the middle of May as the sun, Earth and moon align to create a total lunar eclipse.
The moon will pass through the Earth’s shadow on the night of Sunday, May 15, into Monday, May 16, a spectacular event that does not require any special equipment to see, just cloud-free conditions.
A total lunar eclipse is sometimes referred to as a “Blood Moon” due to the moon changing color to dark red or rusty orange during the height of the event.
The start of the eclipse will not be visible along the West Coast, but the moon will rise in time for residents from Seattle to San Diego to see the best part of the eclipse when the moon takes on an unusual color.
People can use the free AccuWeather app to get the cloud forecast for their area leading up to the highly-anticipated event.
A second total lunar eclipse will be visible from North America in November, giving people another opportunity to see an impressive lunar eclipse in 2022.
May 29: Mars-Jupiter conjunction
The end of May will conclude with a meeting of morning planets similar to what unfolded near the end of April.
Early risers were able to see Jupiter appear extremely close to Venus before daybreak at the end of April, and at the end of May, Jupiter will make an even closer approach to Mars.
In reality, the planets will be extremely far apart, but from the perspective of the Earth, the two will be side-by-side in the sky. This type of event is commonly called a conjunction.
The duo will appear extremely close three mornings in a row starting on May 28; however, they will be at their closest on Sunday, May 29. The best time to see the conjunction will be about an hour before sunrise, local time.
No telescope is required to see Jupiter and Mars, but they will be so close that they will be in the same field of view when zooming in with a telescope or pair of binoculars.