Grab a blanket or a comfy lounge chair to sit back, relax and watch the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. Catch the peak of the dazzling show before dawn on May 6. The waning gibbous Moon might outshine some of fainter meteors, but there will still be opportunities see meteors streak across the night sky at the approximate peak rate of about 30 per hour.
2018 is quite a year for the Red Planet. As you gear up for opposition on July 27, and Mars’ closest proximity to Earth since 2003, those of you in California may also have the opportunity to watch NASA’s launch of the Mars InSight Lander. At 4:05 A.M. Pacific Time on May 5, InSight will set off for the first ever mission to study the deep interior of Mars. Weather permitting, the launch may be visible to more than 10 million Californians without a need for them to drive to a special location.
Gigantic Jupiter reaches opposition on May 9th, making it the best night of the year to explore the gas giant planet and its four brightest moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Since Jupiter will be directly opposite the Sun from Earth, it will be visible all night long. Opposition occurs when a planet reaches its closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit. Take advantage of Jupiter’s brightest night of the year and take a closer look at its cloud band “stripes” and four Galilean moons.