See Tonight’s Potentially Historic New Meteor Shower’s 100,000 ‘Shooting Stars’: What You Can See In The Night Sky This Week
Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.
What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: May 30-June 5, 2022
Are you ready to take a risk to see something incredible? This week there’s a chance—only a chance—that an unforgettable meteor outburst could see a thousand meteors per hour pop above observers in the northern hemisphere who get outside at the right time. If it does materialize then it will do so in dark, moonless skies because there’s a New Moon on Monday.
Monday, May 30, 2022: Tau Herculid meteor shower?
This evening astronomers predict that there could be an outburst in the night sky of between 1,400 to 100,000 meteors as Earth busts through dust and debris left in the inner solar system by Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. It broke apart in 1995 and may cause something truly spectacular … or maybe not. Some scientists are predicting an outburst rich only in extremely faint meteors, so prepare for disappointment.
The key time to be outside looking up is 05:00 Universal Time, which is 20:00 EST and 17:00 PST (so, as soon as it gets dark …). If anyone gets a good view it’s going to be the Americas.
You can watch it online here at 11:00 EDT tonight – May 30, 2022 (04:00 UTC on May 21, 2022).
Tuesday, May 31, 2022: A super-slim crescent Moon
The reappearance of the crescent Moon after the New Moon is a spectacular monthly event that too few of us attempt to see. Look to the western sky, low to the horizon, right after sunset and see if you can spot the delicate 2%-illuminated crescent Moon.
Wednesday, June 1, 2022: A crescent Moon
Do the same tonight and you’ll find it much easier to spot the 6%-lit crescent Moon. Look to the Moon’s unlit side and you’ll likely see “Earthshine”—light reflected from our own planet onto the Moon. You may need binoculars to see it.
Thursday, June 2, 2022: A crescent Moon and naked-eye ‘Earthshine’
A 10%-lit crescent Moon at dusk tonight is ideal for seeing “Earthshine with no visual aids.
Friday, June 3, 2022: A crescent Moon and the Beehive Cluster
A 17%-lit crescent Moon will tonight shine next to the Beehive Cluster in the constellation of Cancer. You’ll need binoculars for this one—but any pair will do.
Saturday, June 4, 2022: All five naked-eye planets
Get up before sunrise and cast your eyes to the southeastern horizon and you’ll be able to see all five planets visible to the naked eye—six if you include the planet you’re on! What’s more they’ll be in order of distance from the Sun, with Mercury closest to the horizon followed by Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Sunday, June 5, 2022: The Moon and Regulus
A 35%-lit crescent Moon will tonight be visible very close to the bright star Regulus in the constellation of Leo.
Constellation of the week: Boötes
If there are any “shooting stars” from this week’s possible Tau Herculid meteor shower then they will appear to originate from the constellation of Boötes.
Rising in the east after dark as seen from the northern hemisphere, you can quite easily pick out this Y-shaped constellation by going in an arc from the tail of the Big Dipper to the next bright star, Arcturus (“Arc to Arcturus”).
Object of the week: The Beehive Cluster (M44)
Found in the otherwise sparse constellation of Cancer, the crab, the Beehive Cluster—also called M44 and Praesepe (meaning “manger” in Latin)—is a group of stars about 580 light years distant.
Although you can see it naked-eye in reasonably dark skies, a pair of binoculars will find it easily in light-polluted cities. Expect to find about 60 stars in binoculars.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.