Jeffers Foundation


Data from Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac (Jim Gilbert for Phenology and Rod Nerdahl for Astronomy)


Phenology: Fourth Week of May 2019

White-tailed deer fawns are being born. Young woodchucks can be seen out and about. The first monarch butterflies are due to return. House wrens, gray catbirds, yellow warblers, Baltimore orioles, American robins, and many more bird species fill the air with their special music. Yews, firs, and spruces are evergreens that now look especially attractive with their bright green new growth. New cattail leaves have grown up two to five feet so marshes have also begun looking green again. Gardeners harvest leaf lettuce, radishes, green onions, and rhubarb, and are looking for the first ripe strawberries. Now is the time to plant watermelon, squash, pumpkin, and muskmelon seeds.

View the May Phenology Information from the Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac >>

Species of the Month

Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum)

Prairie smoke <em>(Geum triflorum)</em>
Kenneth Evans

A distinctive prairie wildflower that blooms in later spring, prairie smoke is known for its bell-shaped purple-red flower, which usually grows in threes. Once these flowers are fertilized and the seeds begin to form, the styles elongate to form upright, feathery gray tails that collectively resemble a plume of smoke or feather duster. The feathery seed tails disperse seeds. While not truly evergreen, the leaves can last all winter, turning attractive shades of red.

Astronomy: May

By the end of the month, the stars of the Summer Triangle rise at 10:00 pm. Three bright stars, each in a different constellation, make an isosceles triangle in the sky. Altair, at the vertex, is in the constellation of Aquila, the eagle, and is 17 LY away. The brightest of the three is Vega, in the constellation of Lyra, the harp. A beautiful blue-white, it lies at a distance of 25 LY. Deneb, at the tail of Cygnus the Swan, is the faintest of the three, but it has good reason to be, at an incredibly distant 2,600 LY. Deneb is one of the most luminous stars ever found. Look closely, and you can see the Milky Way coursing its way through the middle of the triangle.

Morning Sky

Mercury and Venus are joined by the Moon on 5/2, but Mercury quickly leaves Venus behind as it passes behind the Sun, as seen from the Earth, moving from the morning sky into the evening sky, with a 5/21 Superior Conjunction. Saturn gets a close pass from the Moon on 5/23 and moves into the night sky by the end of the month.

Evening Sky

A close pass of the Moon on 5/7, and Mars grows ever closer to the horizon. Jupiter pushes further into the evening, rising before 10:00 pm by the end of the month, seen with the Moon on 5/19. This month we are peering outside the disk of our galaxy. The contrast with summer, when we look into the busy heart of our galaxy, is staggering. Even in winter, looking along the outer rim, the sky is rich. In this spring sparseness we get a clear view into the galaxies beyond our own.

Sun Declination

View the May Astronomy Information from the Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac >>


What to Look For 05, 2019

First monarch butterfly arrives (Carver County):
2017 May 14
2016 May 24
2015 June 1
2014 May 21
2013 May 31




4th, New Moon - 5:45 pm

6th, Moon near Aldebaran low in west - At sunset

6th, Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower peak - Between midnight and dawn 5/7

8th, Mercury 1.38° south of Uranus - 3:13 am

11th, First Quarter Moon - 8:12 pm

12th, Moon near Regulus in west - After midnight

13th, Moon perigee; 229,291 miles - 4:52 pm

18th, Full Moon Blossom (Ojibwe) - 4:11 pm

18th, Venus 1.15° south of Uranus - 3:12 am

26th, Last Quarter Moon - 11:34 am

26th, Moon apogee; 251,120 miles - 8:27 am

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