May 2008 night sky guide and podcast

To help you learn about the southern night sky, Sydney Observatory provides a night sky star map or chart for each month of the year. We also provide an audio guide of the month’s night sky, presented by one of Sydney Observatory astronomy experts – this month, Dr Nick Lomb, the Museum’s Curator of Astronomy. You can listen online, or download the audio onto your ipod or mp3 player. Links to the audio and the star map are below.

Among highlights for this month, Nick tells us we should be able to see streaks of light from a meteor shower in early May. This meteor shower, the Eta Aquarids, is caused by particles thrown off by Halley’s Comet. The best time to see it is on the early morning, before sunrise, on Tuesday 6 May. It should be a particularly good opportunity to see it this year as there is no Moon then.

Also visible this month are the planets Mercury, Mars and Saturn (best to catch it this year as the rings will disappear during next year because of the angle Saturn will be at relative to the Earth), and the constellations Orion, Gemini and the Southern Cross.

For much more information and detail in star charts for months from December 2007 until December 2008 inclusive, plus information about the Sun and twilight and the Moon and tides, and a host of other fascinating astronomical information, we recommend you purchase (only $16.95 and available now) the 2008 Australian sky guide by Sydney Observatory’s Dr Nick Lomb. Available online and at Sydney Observatory and Powerhouse Museum shops.

The free monthly night sky map PDF (below) shows the stars, constellations and planets visible in the night sky from anywhere in Australia. To view PDF star charts you will need to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader if it’s not on your computer already.

May 2008 night sky map

Read the transcript.

7 responses to “May 2008 night sky guide and podcast

  • Hello John. It certainly was Jupiter. With a good pair of binoculars you can actually see its four brightest moons, the Galilean moons. The trick is to hold the binoculars very steady by attaching it to a tripod or by resting your elbows on a table or other support.

  • hi

    it’s saturday 24.5.08 10.21. i’m on the lower north shore of sydney, and there is this really bright spot at the 9o’clock position to the moon. is it jupiter?

  • Hi,
    At just past 600AEST this morning (21/05/08) I noticed a bright object a few degrees NW of the zenith. I quickly set up my small telescope and observed a disc with two tiny points of light SE and NNW of what I think might have been Jupiter. I was unable to locate Jupiter on the observatory’s night sky chart, as it displays the sky about 11 hours earlier. I have not been able to locate a current Sydney sky chart with the position of Jupiter, and I wonder if you would know of any. Thanks.


  • Hello Andy. I had people in Sydney and the Blue Mountains who were planning to let me know about their meteor observations this morning. Unfortunately, they were all prevented from seeing anything by the same cloud you experienced. I have not heard from anyone who did manage to make observations. Is it worth getting up early tomorrow? I would suggest not to bother unless you live in a dark sky area so that you could see even faint meteors.

  • Dear Nick
    I got up this morning to view the Eta Aquarids, and much to my disappointment Sydney was covered in cloud – not forecast. I was wondering if there had been any anecdotal feedback (in the Southern Hemisphere) about the quality of the show – and whether it might be worth getting up early tomorrow to see the tail end of things?

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