Babe Among the Stars: The Goddesses Venus and Sekhmet

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

The Goddesses Venus and Sekhmet

The planet Venus, named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, dominates the evening sky during May. From the beginning of the month it registers −4.2 magnitude, but will increase in brightness throughout the passing nights, peaking at −4.4 by the end of May. In early May you can seek out this sparkling jewel in Taurus 'the Bull'. It enters Gemini 'the Twins' on 8 May, where it will remain for the rest of the month. On 9 May, Venus is just 1.7° north of open star cluster Messier 35, which will be a great target in binoculars.

American astronomer Carolyn Shoemaker and her husband, the late Eugene Shoemaker, co-discovered the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which subsequently slammed into Jupiter in 1994, more than adequately demonstrating the damage that is caused when planetary impacts occur. On 14 May, 1991, Carolyn Shoemaker discovered an asteroid which was named 5381 Sekhmet in honour of Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of war and retribution. On 17 May this asteroid will pass Earth some 60× the Earth-Moon distance – good job too, considering it is over 2km in length!

May 2015 Diary Dates

  • 01: Mercury is within 2° of The Pleiades (Messier 45)
  • 01: The 15m-wide asteroid 2015 HS11 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 02: The 18m-wide asteroid 2015 HQ171 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 02: The 60m-wide asteroid 2015 HL171 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 04: Full Moon - the Flower, Milk or Rose Moon
  • 05: Eta Aquarids meteor shower peak
  • 05: The Moon passes 2° north of Saturn
  • 09: Venus is within 2° of open star cluster Messier 35
  • 11: Mercury passes 8° north of Aldebaran (alpha Tauri)
  • 12: The Moon passes 3° north of Neptune
  • 14: The Moon is at perigee (closest to Earth)
  • 15: The Moon passes 0.2° south of Uranus
  • 17: The 2.1km-wide asteroid 5381 Sekhmet will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 18: New Moon
  • 19: The Moon passes 6° south of Mercury
  • 21: The Moon passes 8° south of Venus
  • 23: May Camelopardalids meteor shower
  • 24: The Moon passes 5° south of Jupiter
  • 25: The 24m-wide asteroid 2015 HT9 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 26: The Moon is at apogee (furthest from Earth)
  • 27: Two of the Galilean moons' shadows will merge on Jupiter's face as Ganymede eclipses Io
  • 30: Venus is 4° south of Pollux (beta Geminorum)

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

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