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.
Read the transcript.