There will be lots happening in the Okanagan night sky this week.
Thurs. May 3 - The waxing gibbous Moon will join two other luminaries in the sky tonight. The star Spica will be left of the Moon while ringed Saturn will be to its lower left. While Spica will be the dimmest of the three objects, on its own turf it would be spectacular. The blue giant star is actually a close binary and it is still the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo though it is 260 light years distant!
Fri. May 4 - If the sky is clear, get set for a night of observing at the Okanagan Observatory on Big White Road (full directions at www.okanaganobservatory.ca). OC RASC members invite the public to join them for an audio/visual program, a guided tour of the sky, and observing with member telescopes and the club's 25" telescope. A Go/No Go message will be posted by 3pm each Friday on the Observatory Event Phone 250-300 8SKY (8759). See a picture taken at a Sky Theatre presentation by member Hugh Pett.
Sat. May 5 - An alert for romantics! The largest Full Moon of 2012 will rise this evening, making it appear even larger than it usually does when it peaks over the eastern mountains. It will be an even greater view if seen over water.
Sat. May 5 - Shed a tear for meteor observers. Tonight the Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak in the early morning hours. Wouldn't you know that it will be Full Moon night, and a big full moon at that. The Eta Aquarids do not count as a prominent meteor shower, at least from Canada's latitudes, but it would be worthwhile to look to the eastern pre-dawn sky to see if any bright 'shooting stars' can be spotted radiating upwards from the vicinity of Aquarius' water jar in the southern sky.
Sunday, May 20 - Get set for a partial eclipse of the Sun coming up on the afternoon of Sunday, May 20! People located in a band stretching across the west central United States will see an annular eclipse where the Moon will cover all but a thin ring of the Sun. This is because the Moon is at a farther part of its orbit so it will not be able to cover all of the Sun to produce a Total Eclipse.
Okanagan residents will see a partial eclipse which is still worth watching. In the late afternoon on May 20, first contact will arrive around 5pm as the dark sphere of the Moon takes its first bite out of the limb of the Sun. The missing sector will grow rapidly until about 68% of the Sun is covered around 6.15pm, followed by the gradual recession of the intruder, restoring the Sun to its full glory around 7.21pm.
A warning! Do not look at the Sun with your naked eye or through binoculars or a telescope without proper filtering.
More eclipse details are on the 'What's Up' page at www.ocrasc.ca.
Saturday, May 26th - Gala Fundraising Dinner to support the Okanagan Observatory. Guest speaker is astronomer Dr. Ken Tapping who recently had an asteroid named after him, speaking on 'Did an Asteroid Wipe Out The Dinosaurs?' The delicious roast beef dinner will be complemented by a silent auction of some great items as well as special astronomy displays. Tickets are $40 each available by phoning 250-763-3573. Location: The Kelowna Curling Club lounge. Details at www.ocrasc.ca.
Okanagan Skies highlights of current and upcoming astronomical events have been assembled by OC RASC member Dave Gamble. Please send your comments to [email protected].
Okanagan Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada www.ocrasc.ca
Okanagan Observatory www.okanaganobservatory.ca