This Sky Map is representative of the sky as seen from London, UK at Latitude N 51° 31' 12.00", Longitude W 0° 6' 0.00" on the 15th of May 2013. The map is suitable for latitudes up to 15° north or south of London.
The map is how the sky appears directly over your head. This is why the East and West cardinal points appear reversed. Hold the map above your head for an accurate representation of the night sky. The Sky Map is how the sky looks at the 1st of the month at 23:30 BST (British Standard Time), the 15th at 23:00 BST and on the last day of the month at 22:00 BST.
|o - indicates nebulae and star clusters|
|Ecliptic - is the apparent path of the Sun across the sky|
Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the northern hemisphere night sky during May 2013.
The constellation of Taurus is setting in the west at dusk, with Leo moving across the southern sky. To the south-east are Virgo and Coma Berenices, between which the 'Realm of the Galaxies' provides a rich area for telescope observations. The planet Saturn is near to Virgo's brightest star, Spica. Bootes, with its bright star Arcturus, lies to the east, above Hercules. The four brightest stars in Hercules make a trapezium known as the Keystone, on one side of which is the largest and brightest globular cluster in the northern hemisphere, M13. Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila rise later in the evening, with their bright stars Vega, Deneb and Altair forming the 'Summer Triangle'. Near to Vega, in Lyra, is what appears through binoculars to be a double star. A telescope reveals that each component is itself a double star, lending the system the name of the 'Double Double'. Jodrell Bank's Astronomical A-list gives details of some the night sky's nicest objects.
John Field from the Carter Observatory in New Zealand speaks about the southern hemisphere night sky during May 2013.
May sees Orion the Hunter in the western sky in the evening. Above it is Sirius, the brightest night-time star, which often twinkles in different colours as shifting air currents refract its light. Sirius is known as the Dog Star because it is part of Canis Major, one of Orion's two dogs. To Maori it is Takarua, the Winter Star, while to Egyptians it is Sothis, whose dawn rising heralds the annual floods of the river Nile. Orion is on his side, with a line of three stars forming his Belt. These three are part of the Bird Snare, Te Manu Rore, in Maori star lore. A fainter line of stars above the Belt marks the Orion's Sword. The Sword and Belt together are nicknamed the Pot or the Saucepan.
On the opposite side of the sky, Scorpius and Sagittarius rise in the east after sunset, containing a wealth of night-sky objects. Crux and the Pointer Stars are high overhead in the south. Near to the star Beta Crucis is a star cluster called the Jewel Box, visible as a hazy glow to the naked eye. Individual stars can be seen with binoculars, while a telescope reveals more detail. The constellations of Carina, the Keel, and Vela, the Sails, run along the Milky Way between Crux and Sirius, and host many bright stars, clusters and nebulae. The brightest nebula, the Eta Carina Nebula, covers a larger area of sky than the Orion Nebula, and binoculars show star clusters nestling among glowing clouds of gas that are intertwined with dark lanes. The star Eta Carinae is there, and has interested astronomers by brightening from magnitude +8 in 1940 to +4.6 today.
Now is a good time to observe the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. The phenomenon is caused by the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere, and its colourful glow is sometimes visible from southern parts of New Zealand, Australia and South America. It is governed by the Sun's activity, which is currently increasing towards a probable peak in the spring. You can check a number of websites for an aurora forecast.