Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 13th to Sunday 19th May 2024

    If you are outside around 1am on the morning of Tuesday 14th, a 35%-lit waxing crescent Moon will be setting towards the western horizon. Just below and to the left of the Moon you will find a nice target for your telescope that I have mentioned before - the Beehive open cluster of stars, also known as M44 in the Charles Messier catalogue.

    It's also a week for spotting those curious clair-obscur visual effects on the lunar surface, starting with the "Lunar X and V" around 4pm on Wednesday 15th. The Moon will have risen about the horizon towards the east and even though it will be daylight, the moon should be visible, with the "X and V" on the terminator, where sunlight just illuminates the lunar surface.

    Early Friday morning 17th, around 2am, is the optimum time to observe the clair-obscur effect known as "Plato's Hook" in the crater Plato. A slightly gibbous Moon will be setting towards the west.

    The crater Plato is located towards the northern part of the Moon and is almost perfectly round with a diameter of just under 100Km. It is estimated to be almost 4 billion years old. I have provided an image, courtesy of astronomer Pete Lawrence, to help you identify Plato's Hook.

    Finally, May is the start of the noctilucent cloud season. These night-shining clouds are caused by sunlight reflecting off water ice crystals in the upper atmosphere at twilight. They are too faint to be observed in daylight.
    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2024

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