Coming up in early May 2019, the crescent Moon will make a spectacular pairing with Mars and a few days later, with the large Beehive star cluster.
As if that wasn’t enough, we have a nice meteor shower about to grace a night sky near you.
TV or computer can hardly compare, if the night is clear!
Before I go any further, thanks are extended to a Looking Up reader, Clyde Diedrich. He sent a wonderful photograph of the Full Moon that he recently took, showing a line of geese flying right in front! He took them from a bridge over the Erie Canal between Mohawk and Herkimer, New York. "Couldn’t believe what I captured," Mr. Diedrich said. "Didn’t know geese could fly so high."
The picture reminds me of a flock of geese I saw crossing in front of the Moon many years ago. I was looking through my telescope when this V-formation of flapping geese, in silhouette, passed between me and the Moon. The geese were very small compared to the view of the Moon, so they had to be quite distant. I had no picture to prove it, like Mr. Diedrich! Has anyone else had a similar experience?
The Moon is currently a morning crescent, leading up to New Moon on Saturday, May 4. During the week following, look for a lovely crescent in the western sky as the evening twilight deepens.
The evening of May 6, once the stars come out, find a low, clear view of the western sky. The crescent Moon will be just above the bright red-orange star Aldebaran (magnitude +0.9) and the V-shape formation of not geese, but stars making up the Hyades Star Cluster. Aldebaran is right at the left tip of this rough "V" shape, although much nearer to us than the star cluster.
Just above, look for planet Mars, fairly conspicuous at magnitude +1.6 and reddish.
Notice the "earthshine" dimly illuminating the darker part of the Moon. This is sunlight reflecting off Earth and reflecting again off the Moon. The view with binoculars is stunning.
On May 10, the much thicker crescent Moon will be higher, in the southwestern sky, right next to the Beehive star cluster. It should be a wonderful sight in binoculars. The Beehive covers about the same amount of sky as the Moon.
Eta Aquaria Meteor Shower peaks on the morning of May 6. You will see the most meteors after midnight. The Eta Aquariid meteors are left over particles from the famed Comet Halley, which have spread around the comet’s long orbit. Every May the Earth passes through the meteor swarm and pulls them in.
They seem to radiate from the constellation Aquarius, which in early May rises around 2:30 a.m. as seen from mid-northern latitudes. Meteors may be seen anywhere in the sky, but the shower’s members can be traced back to the radiant.
Astronomy magazine is predicting a peak of about 40 meteors an hour. This assumes a wide open, clear, dark sky.
Let me know whet you see!
Keep looking up!

-- Peter Becker is Managing Editor at The News Eagle in Hawley, PA. Notes are welcome at news@neagle.com. Please mention in what newspaper or web site you read this column.