Events in DARK text happen during darkness. LIGHT text during daylight,
i.e. we can't see them.
Note: Times are calculated for Liverpool and will vary slightly across the UK
||Sun Angle ?
Each month, we identify the best constellations to be seen from the UK between 9pm and 10pm.
This month we'll be looking for the summer constellations of Canes Venatici, Corvus
which can be found towards the south in the May night sky.
Canes Venatici - is the Latin for 'Hunting Dogs' and is one of three
constellations that represents dogs. Although it only has one bright star, known as
Cor Coroli, the boundaries of the constellation extend far beyond the main
naked-eye stars to make it the 38th largest of the 88 modern constellations. Whilst
short on notable stars, Canes Venatici makes up for it by way of interesting galaxies,
such as the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), the Sunflower Galaxy (M63), M94 and M106; all of
which are worth a look if you have the chance. The only way to find this less obvious
constellation is to first locate the nearby Plough (part of Ursa Major), which
will be right above our heads during May (9-10pm). From there it should be fairly
straightforward to locate the one bright star within Canes Venatici.
Corvus - is named after the Latin word for 'Crow' or 'Raven', and takes
the shape of an irregular four-sided box, with its 4 main stars at each corner; just
2 of which are considered to be bright. Being a relatively small constellation, Corvus
comes in at 70th largest out of 88. That said, its obvious shape should make it fairly
easy to identify low above the southern horizon during May (9-10pm). The most notable
object within Corvus is the Antennae Galaxies (also known as NGC 4038/NGC 4039)
which are a pair of interacting galaxies that are undergoing a slow-motion collision
with each other. They are known as the antennae because the two long tails of stars,
gas and dust thrown out of the galaxies as a result of the collision resemble the
antennae of an insect. The nuclei of the two galaxies are joining to become one
Virgo - takes its name from the Latin word for 'Virgin' or 'Maiden', and is the
2nd largest constellation in the night sky - just behind Hydra. It is also one of the 12
constellations through which the ecliptic passes and is therefore one of the signs of
the zodiac. The ecliptic is an imaginary line across the night sky that the planets never
stray far from during their orbits of the Sun. It marks out the plane of our
Solar System, or alternatively, indicates the direction
of its rotation axis. Although large, Virgo has just 3 bright stars, the brightest of which is
blue-giant Spica - a first magnitude star that is also the 15th brightest in the night
sky. Virgo is also home to a well known cluster of galaxies, not surprisingly known as the Virgo
Cluster, which means that this constellation is particularly rich in fascinating galaxies - such
as the edge-on Sombrero Galaxy (M104).