Start Calendar Planets:
Moon and Sun each elongate the fluid earth and exert tidal stress on the viscous and solid earth. This stress and shape distortion moves around the longitudinal earth in the two periods 12.42 and 12 hours respectively but also change latitude (declination) according to each body’s characteristic seasonal movement. Proximity of each body further modulates the effect. We then have a complex combination of rhythms and directions of tidal stress/distortion which serve to enhance and diminish each other. But the world is not covered evenly in fluid – there are instead basins and channels of various size that the generated tidal wave must negotiate. The size, orientation and capacity of this complex serve to also generate resonances and nodes so that local expressions of these stress inputs can appear sensibly aligned or apparently out of phase, greatly enhanced or diminished. The largest noticeable rhythm in most instances is the M2 tide (Moon tide at twice its diurnal frequency), modified by its phase with the lesser S2 tide. Out of phase is called “neap”, in phase is called “spring” and these alternate roughly every week. This is further modulated by apo/perigee, and then by ap/perihelion. The greatest Spring tide would occur if perihelion were to occur at an equinox (not for 5000 years or so) and perigee. These latter factors can be overwhelmed by local weather; atmospheric pressure bulges and winds.
Mercury makes a poor, shallow morning apparition this month. He skulks well below an already low ecliptic for his elongation.
Venus stands farther afield the Sun, and much less south of the morning ecliptic than Mercury. All month she will be easily mistaken as a distant airplane in the east before dawn.
Sun passes over Spring Valley 3 minutes 49 seconds before it reaches the time zone meridian of 75W. A lesser peak of the equation of time (published for the time zone meridian) renders clocks 3 minutes 41 seconds slow on the 13th this month. The two effects will make sundials agree with clocks at the middle of this month – excepting the silly discrepancy of the DST hour.
Mars is dimmer and to the right of Aldebaran, barely discernible as evening darkens in the early part of this month. Aldebaran subsequently drops from view much more quickly than Mars, overtaken by the Sun by Month’s end. Mars is not overtaken (conjunct) until July 27th – but is also un-viewable long before then.
Jupiter is now past opposition but also is more dominant in the evening since he is appearing higher as night falls. On the 1st he is 30 degrees in the SE at Nautical Twilight. On the 31st he is 45 degrees and South (culminating) at Nautical Twilight.
Saturn still rises very late and low – is really only noticeable to very early risers. He is quietly preparing for his opposition in June – but due to the wintry region he occupies, this will mostly be obscured by foliage and other ground clutter.
Star Calendar Days:
1 Sunrise/set in Spring Valley at 5:59/19:53 (13h54m daylight)
May Day (Beltane) celebrates beginning of cross-quarter Summer
Mars, Sun and Saturn are in syzygy (fall on a line in space)
2 Mercury is stationary to stars, now moves in normal (leftwards) motion
3 Moon to right of Regulus, South as evening darkens
4 Moon to left of Regulus, South as evening darkens
5 Martian equinox, Spring for northern half.
7 Moon beside Jupiter and above Spica in SSE as evening darkens
10 Full Milk Moon at 5:42PM, is apogee and in Libra
13 Equation of time makes SV sundials agree with clocks today
17 Mercury at largest (but shallow) angle from Sun for this appearance
22 Moon and Venus a fetching pair for early risers, East at 4:30AM
25 New Moon and Perigee, large amplitude Spring Tide
27 Mars below and to right of Moon shortly after 9PM WNW
30-31 Moon passes Regulus – look West each night around 10PM
31 Sunrise/set in Spring Valley at 5:26/20:22 (14h56m daylight)