Society News and Night Sky Notes – May 1998

Society News Headlines

  • May 1st – Pex Hill Observatory – Public Open Night.
  • May 1st – Comet Klemola at perihelion.
  • May 1st – Proposed rocket launch pad for the Caribbean could damage local wild life.
  • May 2nd – The Most distant galaxy has been found – 12.3 billion light years from Earth.
  • May 2nd – NASA to investigate why baby rats died on the recent shuttle mission STS-90.
  • May 2nd – Two newly discovered moons of Uranus are to be named Caliban and Sycorax from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
  • May 3rd – BBC Sky at Night program with Patrick Moore. Subject:CCD’s in Astronomy. (Rept Sat 9th May on BBC2.)
  • May 3rd – ASTRONOMY DAY in the USA.
  • May 3rd – SOHO spacecraft discovered its 45th “sun-grazing” comet – C/1998 J1 (SOHO).
  • May 3rd – Moon to be used to salvage satellite which is in wrong Earth Orbit.
  • May 3rd – AURORAL ACTIVITY WARNING ISSUED – May 3rd – 5th.
  • May 3rd – Space shuttle Columbia lands at JFK center after 16 day Neuolab mission.
  • May 3rd – May 3rd 2000 planetary alinement puts insurance companies on alert.
  • May 3rd – Astronomers detect 2nd Big Bang – Gamma Ray Burst.
  • May 4th – Neptune Stationary.
  • May 4th – Eta Aquarids meteor shower max.
  • May 4th – StarTimes Headlines.
  • May 4th – Mercury: greatest elongation 27° West. ( Not seen from Liverpool).
  • May 4th – Images of recent major aurora display by Brian Rachford.
  • May 5th – RGO staff lose their Jobs To-day. More to follow in October 1998!.
  • May 5th – Astronomers new findings on 2nd big bang.
  • May 5th – Comet Barnard 3 at perihlion.
  • May 6th – Assembly shuttle flights for the International Space Station have been delayed until April 1999. NASA regrets Russian role in project.
  • May 7th – Australian astronomers view “STINGRAY” in space.
  • May 7th – Exploring The Outer Regions of the Solar System. A major report from the USA National Research Council.
  • May 8th – Juno Stationary.
  • May 8th – Communications Satellite HGS-1 fires its engine to travel to Moon and back.
  • May 8th – Hollywood Blockbuster Movie “Deep Impact” opens in the USA.
  • May 8th – New Galileo Images now on the Internet.
  • May 8th – RAS meeting – London at 16:00pm.
  • May 8th – More findings cast doubt of evidence of life on Mars.
  • May 10th – Mercury control building open again by NASA after 35 years.
  • May 10th – New Supernova 1998bu discovered in spiral galaxy M96 in Leo.
  • May 12th – Mercury 0.8° South of Saturn.
  • May 12th – First light for unit 1 of Very Large Telescope (VLT) approaches.
  • May 12th – Astronomers in the Czech Republic have named an asteroid “Dominik” after a goalie from the Winter Olympics.
  • May 14th – 25th Anniversary (1973) of launch of use space station Skylab.
  • May 14th – Planets around other stars – do they form slowly or quickly.
  • May 14th – Hubble Space Telescope gives astronomers detailed view of Black hole in Centaurus A.
  • May 14th – New lightweight shuttle external fuel ready for pre-launch tests.
  • May 14th – Scientists simulate “deep impact” effects with computer help.
  • May 15th – Liverpool Astronomical Society AGM, at 7pm Liverpool Museum Lecture Room – followed by Eclipse Feb’98 reports.
  • May 15th – New LAS Council for 1998-99. Details Here.
  • May 17th – Neptune 3° South of Moon.
  • May 17th – Astronomers find “diamond” the size of a planet. (White dwarf BPM37093).
  • May 17th – resupply cargo craft docks with space station MIR.
  • May 17th – Uranus Stationary.
  • May 18th – Hughes to send HGS-1 satellite on 2nd lunar flyby.
  • May 18th – ESA switches off Infrared Space Telescope (ISO) after successful mission.
  • May 18th – NASA to improve protocal in reporting information on near-Earth asteroids. – “DUCK”!.
  • May 18th – Soon you will be able to obtain satellite photos of your street via the web. (For a fee!).
  • May 18th – Uranus 3° South of Moon.
  • May 18th – IAU Colloquium 168 at Nenjing, China. (Ends May 22nd).
  • May 19th – Results from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) indicates that lighting occurs mostly over land.
  • May 20th – Jupiter 0.4&3176; North of Moon.
  • May 20th – Astronomers at the Siding Springs Observatory find a group of galaxies masquereding as stars.
  • May 20th – Satellite brakedown has silenced millions of pagers and USA national public radio.
  • May 20th – A new form of neutron star called a “Magnetar” has been found to have the strongest stellar magnetic field.
  • May 20th – Evidence found in Italy that a shower of comets hit the Earth 36 million years ago.
  • May 21st – New images from Galileo of Europa now available.
  • May 21st – Launch of shuttle on mission STS-91 confirmed for June 2nd at 22:10pm BST.
  • May 21st – Astronomers in Australia get good views of Comet SOHO (1998J1).
  • May 21st – SPACE DAY in the U.S.A.
  • May 21st – Venus, Jupiter and Moon in close conjunction at 04:09am BST.
  • May 22nd – Salt on Europa suggests conditions to support some kind of life?.
  • May 22nd – Venus 1.7° North of Moon.
  • May 22nd – International Space Station building may now be delayed until November ’98 – one year late.
  • May 24th – Russians & NASA haggle over when to vaporize MIR space station. July or December 1999?.
  • May 24th – Mercury 3° North of Moon.
  • May 25th – Clues that Earth was hit by comet 4,000 years ago.
  • May 26th – American Geophysical Union – 1998 Spring Meeting at Boston USA. (Ends May 29th).
  • May 27th – First light for the VLT.
  • May 27th – Solar Quaking – News from Stanford University.
  • May 27th – BAA meeting at Saville Row, London.
  • May 27th – SolarQuakes have been detected on the surface of the Sun.
  • May 27th – Mars orbiter laser altimeter observes North polar cap and clouds on Mars.
  • May 27th – New photos of the Mars’98 Orbiter and Lander.
  • May 28th – Solar “cat scan” provides most detailed look to date at Corona.
  • May 28th – Auroral lights seen to hug Earth’s costlines.
  • May 28th – Pluto at Opposition.
  • May 28th – HST observes possible planet around another star.
  • May 28th – Streetlamps dim hopes for Internet.
  • May 28th – Cosmic clouds threaten Earth.
  • May 28th – NEAR spacecraft observation using a telescope sets new distant record for seeing man-made object.
  • May 28th – Evidence seen of non-polar ice on Mars.
  • May 28th – Venus 0.3° North of Saturn, low in the ENE sky at 04:00am BST.
  • May 29th – Observers in Japan discovery that two storms on Jupiter have merged into one.
  • May 29th – Magnetic energy burst on Sun detected by TRACE spacecraft.
  • May 30th – New safer Antenna developed for ISS space station.
  • May 30th – Earth crater in Australia to be renamed in honour of astro-geologist Gene Shoemaker, who died last year.
  • May 31st – Galileo spacecraft will fly-by Jupiter’s moon Europa for 15th time.
  • May 31st – The International Space Station (ISS) to begin being built in November this year.
  • May 31st – BBC TV’s Sky at Night with Dr Patrick Moore. Subject Planets of other Sun’s. (Rept Sat June 6th)



Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service.
To make your own star chart fo your location at any time, Click Here.

The Sun and Moon

All times are in BRITISH SUMMER TIME (BST). Times For Observer in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, U.K.

Latitude 53 degs 24 mins North.
Longitude +3.0 degs West.

              1st          6th        11th      16th      21st      26th        31st
SUNRISE    05:38        05:28      05:19     05:11     05:03     04:57       04:51
SUNSET     20:41        20:50      20:59     21:07     21:15     21:22       21:29

on 25th
at 20h:33m


on 3rd
at 11h:05m


on 11th
at 15h:30m


on 19th
at 05h:36m



Mercury is at its greatest Western elongation on the 4th. However it does not appear above the horizon at the time of Civil Twilight as seen from Liverpool.


Venus gives the impression that it is ending a short morning apparition as it hugs the Eastern horizon before Sunrise, Its unisually shy appearance changes soon though and it will be seen slightly higher each month. On the 23rd at 00h Venus is 2.5° north of the Moon and on the 28th lies just 15′ north of Saturn.


Mars is at solar conjunction this month and lies directly behind the Sun as seen from the Earth on the 12th.

MARSWATCH – latest observations of the red planet.


Juno is stationary on the 8th.

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter is quite high up in the south east before Sunrise and is slowly beginning to brighten and increase its apparent diameter as it closes the distance to the Earth. On the 20th Jupiter is 1° north of the Moon.

Launched in October 1989, the Galileo Jupiter Probe entered orbit around the great planet on December 7th 1995. The Project Galileo Homepage will give you up-to-date information and the very latest images returned.


As mentioned above, Saturn lies close to Venus at the end of the month. On the 28th, with the two planets 15′ apart, use a medium magnification to note the phase of Venus and the inclined rings of Saturn. On the 23rd Ssturn is 2.5° north of the Moon.


Uranus rises at 01h:00m at the end of the month and transits at 05h:30m. At this time the sky is quite bright but early risers may catch Uranus and Neptune low in the South East.

 Positions for the 1st May:

                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      22h:01m:07s           -17°:37':40"                   05h:37m             5.8

Neptune is even more awkwardly placed in Sagittarius. Found low down in the South East sky.

 Positions for the 1st May:

                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      20h:17m:22s           -19°:19':47"                   06h:53m             7.9


Pluto can be found on the border of Ophiuchus and Scorpius, above and to the right of the mag 2.6 star Zeta Scorpii. The best time to look for the planet is around New Moon. The dates below will be a guide for planning observations.

Positions for May are when pluto's elongation angle is greater than 90°.
DATE                      R.A.                   DEC                   TRANSIT TIME

May  1st               16h:27m:57s            -09°:10':58"                 03h:07m

May  11th              16h:27m:00s            -09°:07':52"                 02h:27m

May  21st              16h:25m:58s            -09°:05':17"                 01h:47m

Pluto is best seen between April 19th – May 3rd, and May 19th – June 2nd.

S&T Outer Planet Finder Chart.


  • May 5th Eta Aquarids (40 per hour) Fairly favourable.
  • May 13th ALPHA SCORPIIDS (20 per hour) Unfavourable.



  • May 11th at 23h:30m Reappearance of Gamma Librae