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May 2008 Monthly Sky Guide


Learn what is happening in May 2008 and what has happened in May in the past. Discover highlights of the night sky and learn what to look for in May 2008.

May Highlight - Mercury

Mercury Globe
While we featured Mercury recently in March, May is truly the month for Mercury.

The small and rocky planet Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun; it speeds around the Sun in a wildly elliptical (non-circular) orbit that takes it as close as 47 million km and as far as 70 million km from the Sun.

Learn more about the planet Mercury and take a solar system tour.

May Skymap

May 2008 Skymap
Nick Greene
Check out this map for the month of May, or create your own customized map with our Free Sky Maps tool.

Note: This map is for a median time and location and may have slight differences from your location and viewing time. Planets and moons shown on this map will have the highest probability of appearing in different locations.

Use this handy Sky Map Symbols Key to figure out what you should be looking for.

Events in May

Phoenix Mars Mission
Check out our Astronomical Events Calendar to learn about other happenings in space and on Earth. Here is a sampling of highlights.
  • 5: Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower
  • 6: Moon at Perigee
  • 13 - 14: Mercury is at Greatest Eastern Elongation (Midnight EST)
  • 20: Moon at apogee
  • 26: Phoenix, Mars Landing

Featured Constellation - Canes Venatici

Canes Venatici
Public Domain
This month, the constellation Canes Venatici can be seen high in the sky. Let's take a closer look at Canes Venatici.
  • Hunting Dogs
  • Genitive: Canum Venaticorum
  • Abbreviations: CVn, C Ven
  • Right Ascension, (h): 13
  • Declination, (deg): 40N

Featured Biography - Robert Goddard

On October 5, 1882, Nahum Danford Goddard, a businessman, and Fannie Hoyt Goddard delivered a son, Robert, in Worcester, MA. Robert Goddard died on Aug. 10, 1945, holding 214 patents in rocketry but having received little attention for his propulsion research. When American rocket scientists began to earnestly prepare for space exploration, they discovered it was almost impossible to build a rocket or launch a satellite without acknowledging the work of Robert Goddard.

This Month in History

The prime crew of Apollo 10
Check every day to learn what happened "This Day in History."
  • 2: 1885 - Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was appointed extraordinary professor of theoretical physics in Kiel.
  • 6: 2001 - The Russian Soyuz capsule, returning from the International Space Station (ISS), touched down right on time, carrying Dennis Tito, the world's first space tourist.
  • 10: 1897 - Konstantin Eduardovitch Tsiolkovsky (Russian Rocketry Pioneer) created his calculations about space flight theory.
  • 18: 1969 - Apollo 10, USA Lunar Manned Orbiter, (May 18-26, 1969) launched.
  • 25: 1543 - Nicolaus Copernicus died in Frauenburg (now Frombork), Poland.
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