May 2021

Bright Sky Digest 

Monthly SAS Newsletter
Space Station, Solar Prominences, Sun 
Image Credit & Copyright: Mehmet Ergün

Return of Annual Camping Trips

Happy May! Are you as excited of the beautiful spring weather as we are? We are excited to announce the return of our annual camping and stargazing camping trips this June and September! (6/3 (Thursday) - 6/7 (Monday) & 9/2 (Thursday) - 9/6 (Monday).

Join new and veteran SAS members at the beautiful Brooks Memorial State Park in Southcentral Washington. You are welcome to stay for any or all of the nights! This trip is FREE for SAS members and it provides an opportunity to safely mingle and learn with others while enjoying the night sky together for both visual astronomy and imaging. 
Our group camp within the park has excellent views, weather cooperating, and we'll be located just 25-minutes from the Columbia River and 15-minutes from the town of Goldendale and the Goldendale Observatory. We'll plan a few optional activities but there will be ample leisure time for whatever recreational fun and/or relaxation you might want.

REGISTER TODAY by emailing Russ Coad at with how many people will be in your party, which nights you'd want to stay, and best phone contact. Hope you can join in for this special time in community!

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, May 11th,
7:15 PM - 9:00 PM:
Astrophotography Special Interest Group Meeting 

Wednesday, May 12th,
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM:
SAS Board Meeting

Wednesday, May 19th, 
John McLaren
NASA Solar System Ambassador
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
SAS General Meeting

Stargazing in Seattle

Bob Mulford

The elusive planet Mercury will be visible in the evening sky for most of May. As seen from the Earth, Mercury is never far in the sky from the Sun and sets shortly after Sunset. The best time to see it is during dusk when the sky has just begun to get dark. Begin looking for Mercury at about 9:00 PM in early May and 9:30 PM near the end of May, low in the west-northwest and about eight to ten degrees above the horizon. 
A thin crescent Moon, two days past new, passes within five degrees of Mercury on May 13th. Two days later, a slightly fatter crescent Moon will be located about a degree to the right of Mars. 
After May 25th, Mercury quickly slips toward the glare of the Sun, but Venus will have emerged from behind the Sun and joined the show. At dusk on the evening of the 28th, Mercury and Venus will be at an altitude of six degrees and within one-half degree of each other. By the 31st, Mercury is less than three degrees above the horizon as civil twilight begins and will be difficult to see, but Venus will remain as an evening star, albeit quite low in the west, until January 2022.
There is still more to see this month. Early in the morning of May 26th, a total lunar eclipse will be visible from the West Coast of the USA. Unfortunately, the total phase begins at 4:11 AM. This is only 30 minutes before the beginning of morning civil twilight, and the Moon is barely 9 degrees above the southwest horizon and sinking. Still, total lunar eclipses are rare and we are lucky that it is visible at all. If the pre-dawn sky is clear and you have a good horizon toward the southwest, it’s well worth getting up, going outside, and looking up.

Mercury, Mars, and the Moon as seen from Seattle on May 15th, shortly after the beginning of civil twilight. 

Mercury and Venus as seen from Seattle on May 26th, shortly before the beginning of civil twilight.
Stargazing in Seattle highlights interesting astronomical events that can be seen without optical aid, simply by looking up at the sky. Times and positions have been adjusted for Seattle’s location (47.6N, 122.3W) and are useful throughout the Pacific Northwest  The terms dawn and dusk refer to Civil twilight, when the sky is dark blue but not quite dark and only the brightest stars and planets are visible

Graphics were produced with the open source planetarium program Stellarium (

Member Spotlight

Rayna Bayer, Trustee

Name: Rayna Bauer

Member Since: 2016

Location: Seattle

Hobbies: Astronomy! Outside of that, I collecting nerdy things like legos, video games, and comic books. I also love to cook, paint, write (sci fi mostly), and sew.

Favorite Space Movie, Show, or Character: Star Trek: The Next Generation

Favorite Space Fact: There are, at least 200 billion galaxies in the universe, at least 200 billion stars in our galaxy, and we think that at least 15% of those in stars have planets. The chance that we are alone in the universe is minute, and somehow that has always been a very comforting thought.

Favorite Space Related Memory:  Looking at the stars over the rock of Gibraltar in Portugal with my parents just after my 12th birthday.

Hopes & Goals: One day I hope to professionally search for exoplanets.
Want to nominate someone for the next member spotlight?
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