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Must-See Skywatching Events for May 2012
Saturn, Spica, and the moon sky map, May 4, 2012.
Credit: Starry Night Software

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In May 2012, the full moon is at its biggest, making it a supermoon for 2012, and later passes in front of the sun to create an annular solar eclipse. The planet Venus continues to shine extra bright in the sky, too. Take a look at May's most promising skywatching events below and happy stargazing!

Moon Phases

Sat., May 5, 11:35 p.m. EDT

Full Moon

The Full Moon of May is usually called the Milk Moon. In Algonquian it is called Flower Moon. Other names are Corn Planting Moon, Corn Moon, and Hare Moon. In Hindi it is known as Buddha Poornima. Its Sinhala (Buddhist) name is Vesak Poya. The Full Moon rises around sunset and sets around sunrise, the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the Moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky. May's Full Moon is the largest of 2012 and occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth, making it a so-called "supermoon."

Sat., May 12, 5:47 p.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last or Third Quarter Moon rises around 2:15 a.m. and sets around 1:45 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Sun., May 20, 7:47 p.m. EDT

New Moon

The Moon is not visible on the date of New Moon because it is too close to the Sun, but can be seen low in the east as a narrow crescent a morning or two before, just before sunrise. It is visible low in the west an evening or two after New Moon.

Mon., May 28, 4:16 p.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 1 p.m. and sets around 1:45 a.m.

Observing Highlights

Fri., May 4, evening

Saturn, Spica, and the Moon

A pretty grouping of a planet, a first magnitude star, and the Moon. Plus a slightly different grouping, not quite as close, the night before.

Saturn, Spica, and the moon sky map, May 4, 2012.
Saturn, Spica, and the moon sky map, May 4, 2012.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Sun., May 20, afternoon

Annular solar eclipse

Annular solar eclipse in the southwestern United States, visible as a partial eclipse over much of North America. Albuquerque NM will have one of the best views.

Annular solar eclipse in the southwestern United States, May 20, 2012.
Annular solar eclipse in the southwestern United States, May 20, 2012.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Sun., May 20, evening

Juno at opposition

A rare opportunity to spot the asteroid Juno at magnitude 9.8 at the borders of Serpens Caput, Libra and Ophiuchus. Use Yed Prior (Delta Ophiuchi) and Mu Serpentis to locate it.

A rare opportunity to spot the asteroid Juno at magnitude 9.8 on May 20, 2012.
A rare opportunity to spot the asteroid Juno at magnitude 9.8 on May 20, 2012.
Credit: Starry Night Software
A rare opportunity to spot the asteroid Juno at magnitude 9.8 on May 20, 2012.
A rare opportunity to spot the asteroid Juno at magnitude 9.8 on May 20, 2012.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Tue, May 22, 2 p.m. EDT

Venus in daylight

Another opportunity to use the nearby crescent Moon to spot Venus in the daytime sky. Not as good as last month because Venus and the Moon are farther apart from each other and also closer to the Sun and not as bright as last month.

The crescent moon and Venus appear in the daytime sky, May 22, 2012.
The crescent moon and Venus appear in the daytime sky, May 22, 2012.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Planets

Mercury is too close to the Sun to observe all month.

Venus continues to be a brilliant object in the evening sky after sunset all month, heading towards inferior conjunction with the Sun on June 5, on which date it will transit in front of the Sun.

Mars is shrinking rapidly in size and brightness. In Leo all month, Mars is high in the south at sunset and sets around 2 a.m.

Jupiter is too close to the Sun to be observed all month.

Saturn continues to be a bright object in Virgo, visible most of the night.

Uranus is too close to the Sun to observe all month.

Neptune is visible low in the eastern sky in Aquarius just before dawn.

This article was provided to SPACE.com by Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu