May 2014 Night Photography Events Calendar

Each month I post a monthly night photography events calendar on the first day of the month. Events listed on this calendar are suitable for wide-field and moderate-telephoto astrophotography, as well as for general night photography. Unless otherwise stated, all events occur in the United States at mid-latitudes. Most of the events also occur at other locations, although some of them may require correction for latitude and longitude. The position of the Moon relative to the planets and stars changes throughout the night. Generally, when a position is given, it is for the period about 45 minutes after sunset or 45 minutes before sunrise. Do not confuse the times of the Moon phases for the times of Moonrise and Moonset. Consult local charts for rise and set times.

For me, the most exciting night-photography event in May is the meteor shower on the 24th. Since the shower’s radiant is nearly due north, I’m planning to shoot a star-trail scene, which hopefully will have circular trails with lots of meteor streaks among them. For many of us, May is also a good month for spending all-nighters under the stars. It’s warm enough to be comfortable, but not yet so hot that it so causes huge problems with noise.

If you sign up for my free Night Photography News eNewsletter, you’ll receive each calendar two weeks early, on the 15th of the preceeding month. This will give you more time to plan your night shooting.

 

All month Jupiter is the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus, shining at about magnitude -2.0. It is in western twilight sky at dusk. At the first of the month, it is about 45° high at sunset and by the end of the month it is about half as high.
All month Mars is visible for most of the night. At sunset, it shines in the Southeast and sets in the West in the late morning. It starts the month shining at magnitude -1.2 but dims to mag -0.5 by month’s end.
All month Saturn is visible all night long. It lies low in the Southeast at sunset and low in the West-Northwest at sunrise. It shines at magnitude +0.1.  
All month Venus is the brilliant “morning star,” shining at about magnitude -4.0, making is easily the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. It shines low in the dawn twilight sky to the East-Southeast.
All month The Milky Way begins its summer show. At the first of the month it doesn’t get high in the South sky until late morning, but by the end of the month it is fairly high by midnight.
Second half Mercury shines low on the horizon in the dusk twilight sky, looking West-Northwest.
5 – 7 The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower occurs during the early-morning hours, peaking on the 6th. For viewers in lower latitudes and the Southern Hemisphere, this is a good shower, producing up to 60 meteors per hour. However, at mid-latitudes the numbers will be much lower. North of 40° latitude, you will probably see very few meteors. You should look for the meteors in the couple hours before morning twilight. For northern viewers, look for the meteors low in the sky, coming from the East-Southeast.
6 First Quarter Moon at 11:15pm.
10 Astronomy Day
14 Full Moon at 3:16pm. Don’t forget, in addition to including the Full Moon as a complement to a landscape or urban scene, you can use the light from the Full (or nearly full) Moon to illuminate your scene.
21 Third Quarter Moon at 8:59am.
23 The Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East. Venus shines to the lower left of the Moon.
24 A  thin Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East. Venus shines to the lower left of the Moon.
24 A possible new meteor shower will occur this morning. Evidence is strong that we will see a substantial number of meteors caused by debris left over from Comet 209P/LINEAR. Predictions cite a minimum of 100 per hour under maximum viewing conditions. There is even a slight possibility that we could witness a meteor storm. The shower’s peak is predicted at about 3:30am and the radiant is nearly due north. The moon rises at 3:39am this morning, but it will be a thin crescent and won’t adversely impact the viewing. This is an exciting opportunity!
25 A very thin Crescent Moon shines very close to Venus in the eastern dawn sky.
26 A sliver thin Crescent Moon shines low on the eastern dawn horizon. Venus shines to the upper right of the Moon.
28 New Moon at 2:40pm. Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (as either pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the moon.
30 A sliver thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in dusk twilight sky, looking West-Northwest. Jupiter shines to the upper left of the Moon while Mercury shines to the right.
31 A thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in dusk twilight sky, looking West-Northwest. Jupiter shines above the Moon while Mercury shines to the lower right..
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