…continuedSky Highlights of 2008
April to June
As spring warmth spreads across the Northern Hemisphere, don’t miss the Moon passing near the Pleiades in early April, Mars drifting through the Beehive Star Cluster in May, and a double transit of two of Jupiter’s moons in June.
If you’ve never knowingly seen Mercury, the evening of May 6th is the time to try. About 45 minutes after sunset, this elusive little planet appears low in the west-northwest, just below the thin crescent Moon.
Even though Mars has faded significantly since January, it’s still worth following, particularly on May 22nd. This evening the red planet glides across the northern edge of the Beehive Star Cluster. Use your telescope to track Mars; its motion against the cluster’s stars will be easily visible on an hourly basis.
A pair of telescopic challenges awaits North America observers in June. For those in the eastern half of the continent, a double shadow transit of Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede will take place on the 22nd. Europa’s shadow will already be on the planet’s face when Jupiter rises about 9:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Then during the morning hours of the 23rd (just prior to midnight on the 22nd on the west coast) the Moon occults Neptune.
Finally, the crescent Moon passes through the Pleiades during the pre-dawn hours of June 30th. The east coast of North America is again favored for this sight.