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  • Chris Baker

What's up? - May 2024

Each month I highlight a few objects you can spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment.

Rather unusually, the major planets are all difficult to see this month - so it's time for something else!

Constellation - Leo

Leo in the South West late evening on the 15th

Courtesy of Stellarium

The constellation of Leo is easy to spot this month - the main feature being the asterism which appears as a backward question mark. Also note that on the 15th the Moon will be phot-bombing the constellation as shown above.

The backward question mark asterism of Leo

Courtesy of Stellarium

Look for the star Regulus (Little Prince) at the base of the asterism. This is the brightest star in Leo and the 21st brightest star in the northern hemisphere night sky. You will not be able to make this out with the naked eye but it is actually a system of 4 stars in two pairs.

Also worth spotting the second brightest star in Leo, Algieba (The Lion's Mane). This star is actually a pair, or binary star system -although you'll need a small telescope with high magnification to separate them.

Constellation - Bootes the Herdsman

Look south mid to late evening and you'll spot the large constellation of Bootes. To find the constellation start by looking for the very bright orange-red star Arcturus.

Bootes - mid month in the southern sky

Courtesy of Stellarium

Arcturus is a red giant star and the brightest star in the constellation Boötes (the herdsman). Arcturus is also among the brightest stars that can be seen from Earth. Astronomers say Arcturus will end up as a white dwarf at the end of its life.

The name Arcturus comes from the Greek meaning "keeper or guardian of the bear", which refers to its position adjacent to the tail of the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear). 

The star is at least 25 times larger than the Sun.

Enjoy the night sky this month and let me know about your observations.

Thank you for reading this blog and do let me know if there is anything you would like me to add to my Newsletter each month.

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