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Monday, May 10, 2021

 

Thursday May 13 to Thursday May 20

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday, May 20. Saturn and Jupiter are readily visible in the morning sky.  Venus and Mercury are becoming more visible in the twilight. On the 13th the thin crescent Moon forms a line with Venus and Mercury low in the evening twilight. On the evening of the 16th the crescent Moon and Mars are close.

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday, May 20.

Morning sky on SaturdayMay 8 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide at 5:31am ACST (90 minutes before sunrise). Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky with the crescent Moon below Jupiter.
 
The insets shows the telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn at this time. The Jovian Moon Ganymede is exiting Jupiter's disk and Io is hidden behind Jupiter.
  
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.
 
Whole sky at 18:49 ACST  (90 minutes after
sunset), on Saturday, May 15 as seen from 
Adelaide
 
 
 

  

Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). click to embiggen.

Evening twilight sky on Thursday May 13 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 17:49 ACST (30 minutes after sunset). Venus is just above the horizon, not far from the crescent Moon with Mercury above. You will need a clear level horizon and probably binoculars to see Venus.




Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

 
Evening sky at 18:49 ACST (90 minutes after sunset), on Sunday May 16 facing north-west as seen from Adelaide.

Mars is two finger-widths from the crescent Moon.


 
 
 
 
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time 
 
  

Mercury is now visible in the evening twilight. On the 13th the thin crescent Moon forms a line with Venus and Mercury low in the twilight, best seen half an hour after sunset with a level, unobstructed horizon, you may need binoculars to see Venus.

Venus is visible low in the twilight from around the 10th on.  I have been able to see Venus from 15 minutes after sunset with averted vision  

Mars is readily visible in the evening sky above the north-western horizon in the early evening. Mars is in Gemini. On the 16th Mars is two finger-widths from the crescent Moon. 
   
Jupiter is climbing higher in the morning sky forming a line with Saturn.
 
 Saturn is climbing higher in the morning sky and is now rising just before midnight. It is still best in the morning sky and is easily seen above Jupiter
 
Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


 

Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to the current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/ 



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Sunday, May 09, 2021

 

ISS passes of 8 and 9 May

The ISS passing through Canis Major (Sirius lower far right) as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Saturday 8 May at 21:04-21:05 ACST. Click to embiggen.
Tonight's ISS pass between the Southern Cross and the False Cross in the late twilight as seen from Adelaide (Sunday 9 May at 18:17-18:22 ACST. Click to embiggen.

Failed to see the tumbling rocket booster CZ-5B which splashed down near the Maldives. Caught two bright and impressive passes of the ISS on my new Canon IXUS 285 HS, my old workhorse's battery compartment has failed, so I have had to replace it. 

Still getting used to the new one and it's quirks (long shutter mode seems stuck on ISO 80, no matter what I do, making it pretty useless, although it comes out okay stacked), which is why the first one is off centre. 

Stacked in Deep-Sky stacker which dropped frames for no discernible reason, brightness adjusted with GIMP

Area around theta Carina and southern cross, 10x15sec frames at ISO 80 (sob) stacked in Deep-Sky stacker, 9 frames survived.  I have left it at a ginormous size so you can see the detail.bit of an edge effect with the ens but food detail in theta Carina. You do have to click to embiggen for best effect.

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Thursday, May 06, 2021

 

Don't forget the Eta Aquariids, mornings 7, 8 and 9 May, 2021

The north-eastern Horizon as seen from Adelaide at 4:30 am ACST, the eta Aquariid radiant is marked with a starburst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen). 
 
Just a reminder that the eta Aquariid meteor shower, which is produced by the debris from Halley’s Comet, is best seen on the mornings of the 7th, 8th and 9th from 4:00 AM to 5:00 AM (that's tomorrow morning and this wekend), when Aquarius is fairly high above the horizon and the crescent Moon is low.
 
I you have dark skies you may see between a meteor every 3-4  minutes at this time. The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4:30 am (see diagram above). 
 
More details and rate predictions for different cities at my eta Aquariid page.

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Monday, May 03, 2021

 

A series of Bright ISS passes, some good ones on the weekend (4-12 May,2021)

The ISS as seen from Brisbane  on the evening of  Sunday 9 May  at 18:48 AEST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS  as seen from Adelaide on the evening of  Sunday 9 May at 18:15:30 ACST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS as seen from Perth on the evening of  Sunday 9 May at 18:19 AWST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Sunday 9 May for Brisbane.All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Sunday 9 May for Adelaide.All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for  Sunday 9 May for Perth.

Over the next few days there are a series of  bright ISS passes in the late evening twilight/early evening. The outstanding passes are when the ISS passes below or through the Southern Cross (5&6th Hobart, 7th Melb, 8th Sydney, Melb (through pointers) 9th, SA, WA, 10th QLD, 12th Darwin). As well there a number of passes close to bright stars. 

The following tables are from data provided from Heavens Above. Particularly impressive passes are highlighted.

Passes from Adelaide (ACST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
04 May-1.318:59:1610°S19:00:0413°S19:00:0413°Svisible
05 May-1.418:12:3710°S18:13:2711°SSE18:14:1710°SEvisible
05 May-0.619:47:2710°SW19:47:3411°SW19:47:3411°SWvisible
06 May-2.418:59:5110°SSW19:02:0628°S19:02:0628°Svisible
07 May-2.218:12:1510°SSW18:14:5822°SSE18:16:4015°ESEvisible
07 May-0.819:48:4010°WSW19:49:3817°WSW19:49:3817°WSWvisible
08 May-3.619:00:2610°SW19:03:5072°NW19:04:1960°NNEvisible
09 May-3.718:12:1610°SW18:15:3958°SE18:19:0010°ENEvisible
09 May-0.519:51:0110°WNW19:52:0011°NW19:52:1111°NWvisible
10 May-1.119:01:1410°W19:03:5121°NW19:06:2610°Nvisible
11 May-2.218:12:1710°WSW18:15:3039°NW18:18:4110°NNEvisible


Passes from Brisbane (AEST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
07 May-1.318:45:5210°SSW18:46:3915°SSW18:46:3915°SSWvisible
08 May-2.017:58:2610°S18:00:4417°SE18:01:2016°SEvisible
09 May-3.418:46:0110°SW18:49:1165°W18:49:1165°Wvisible
10 May-3.617:57:4610°SSW18:01:0654°SE18:04:2011°NEvisible
11 May-0.818:46:5210°W18:49:0817°NW18:51:2210°NNWvisible
12 May-1.917:57:3210°WSW18:00:3934°NW18:03:4410°NNEvisible


Passes from Darwin (ACT)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
10 May-1.719:05:5710°SSE19:07:1112°SE19:07:2211°SEvisible
11 May-3.419:52:0510°SW19:55:2665°NW19:56:0550°Nvisible
12 May-3.519:03:3510°SSW19:06:5248°SE19:10:0610°NEvisible



Passes from Hobart (AEST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
03 May-2.718:39:1210°SW18:42:1830°SSE18:42:3330°SSEvisible
04 May-2.317:51:4610°SW17:54:3924°SSE17:57:0612°ESEvisible
04 May-1.719:28:2210°WSW19:30:0427°WSW19:30:0427°WSWvisible
05 May-3.718:40:4510°SW18:44:1060°SSE18:44:3654°ESEvisible
06 May-3.117:53:0210°SW17:56:1940°SSE17:59:0713°Evisible
06 May-1.619:29:5810°WSW19:32:0626°WNW19:32:0626°WNWvisible
07 May-3.118:41:5310°WSW18:45:1453°NW18:46:4029°NNEvisible
08 May-3.717:53:4710°WSW17:57:1389°NW18:00:3810°NEvisible
08 May-0.719:32:1110°WNW19:33:3012°NW19:34:1911°NWvisible
09 May-1.118:42:5710°W18:45:3120°NW18:48:0410°Nvisible
10 May-1.917:54:1310°WSW17:57:2033°NW18:00:2510°NNEvisible
12 May-0.417:55:0410°WNW17:56:3813°NW17:58:1410°NNWvisible


Passes from Melbourne (AEST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
03 May-1.518:40:3610°S18:42:1813°SSE18:42:3313°SSEvisible
04 May-1.419:28:5910°SW19:30:0418°SSW19:30:0418°SSWvisible
05 May-2.318:41:3510°SSW18:44:2423°SSE18:44:3623°SEvisible
06 May-1.817:54:0710°SSW17:56:2717°SSE17:58:4710°ESEvisible
06 May-2.019:30:1110°SW19:32:0631°SW19:32:0631°SWvisible
07 May-3.618:42:1910°SW18:45:4156°SE18:46:4039°Evisible
08 May-2.917:54:2510°SW17:57:3433°SSE18:00:4310°Evisible
08 May-1.619:31:2310°WSW19:34:1425°NW19:34:1925°NWvisible
09 May-2.718:42:5110°WSW18:46:0945°NW18:49:1111°NNEvisible
10 May-3.717:54:2610°SW17:57:5286°NW18:01:1610°NEvisible
11 May-0.618:43:4810°W18:45:4915°NW18:47:4810°NNWvisible
12 May-1.317:54:2610°WSW17:57:2127°NW18:00:1610°NNEvisible


Passes from Perth (AWST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
06 May-1.719:03:3810°SSW19:05:0419°S19:05:0419°Svisible
07 May-1.918:16:1610°S18:18:2816°SSE18:19:3814°ESEvisible
07 May-0.619:52:0810°WSW19:52:3713°WSW19:52:3713°WSWvisible
08 May-3.819:03:5910°SW19:07:1882°S19:07:1882°Svisible
09 May-3.318:15:5410°SSW18:19:1142°SE18:22:1012°ENEvisible
09 May-0.519:53:5810°W19:55:1113°WNW19:55:1113°WNWvisible
10 May-1.519:04:3510°WSW19:07:2625°NW19:10:1510°Nvisible
11 May-2.818:15:4410°SW18:19:0350°NW18:22:2010°NNEvisible


Passes from Sydney (AEST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
05 May-1.518:43:3010°SSW18:44:3616°S18:44:3616°Svisible
06 May-1.717:56:2010°S17:58:1214°SSE17:59:0713°SEvisible
06 May-0.519:31:5510°SW19:32:0611°SW19:32:0611°SWvisible
07 May-3.018:44:0310°SW18:46:4044°S18:46:4044°Svisible
08 May-2.917:56:1210°SSW17:59:1932°SE18:01:2017°Evisible
08 May-0.619:33:2110°W19:34:1915°W19:34:1915°Wvisible
09 May-2.318:44:3910°WSW18:47:5137°NW18:49:1126°Nvisible
10 May-3.617:56:1110°SW17:59:3677°NW18:02:5810°NEvisible
11 May-0.418:46:1910°WNW18:47:2911°NW18:48:3710°NWvisible
12 May-1.017:56:2210°WSW17:59:0322°NW18:01:4210°Nvisible


When and what you will see is VERY location dependent, so you need to use  Heavens Above  to get site specific predictions for your location, a small difference in location can mean the difference between the ISS passing over a star or planet or missing it completely. As always, start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, there may be slight differences in the time of the ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions. Use the most recent prediction for your site.

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Thursday May 6 to Thursday May 13

The New Moon is Wednesday, May 12. Saturn and Jupiter are readily visible in the morning sky. On the 6th the crescent  Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter. On the 13th the thin crescent Moon forms a line with Venus and Mercury low in the evening twilight. On the 10th Mars is less than half a finger-width from epsilon geminorum. The mornings of the 7th to 9th are the best time to see the eta Aquariid meteor shower in Australia.

The New Moon is Wednesday, May 12. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, at this time.

Morning sky on Saturday
May 8 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide at 5:31am ACST (90 minutes before sunrise). Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky with the crescent Moon below Jupiter.
 
The insets shows the telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn at this time. The Jovian Moons Callisto and Ganymede are exceptionally close.
  
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.
 
Whole sky at 18:59 ACST  (90 minutes after sunset), on Saturday, May 8 as seen from 
Adelaide
 
 
 

  

Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). click to embiggen.

Evening twilight sky on Thursday May 13 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 17:49 ACST (30 minutes after sunset). Venus is just above the horizon, not far from the crescent Moon with Mercury above. You will need a clear level horizon and probably binoculars to see Venus.




Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Evening sky at19:06 ACST (90 minutes after sunset), on Monday May 10 facing north-west as seen from Adelaide.

Mars is less than half a finger-width from Mebsuta, epsilon geminorum.


 
 
 
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time 
The north-eastern Horizon as seen from Adelaide at 4:30 am ACST, the eta Aquariid radiant is marked with a starburst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen). 
 
The eta Aquariid meteor shower, which is produced by the debris from Halley’s Comet, is best seen on the mornings of the 7th, 8th and 9th from 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM

The eta Aquarids are debris from Halleys comet. the best time to see the eta Aquariid meteor shower between around 4 and 5 am, when Aquarius is fairly high above the horizon and the crescent Moon is low. You may see between a meteor every 3-4  minutes at this time. The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4:30 am (see diagram above). More details and rate predictions for different cities here.
  
Mercury is now visible in the evening twilight. On the 13th the thin crescent Moon forms a line with Venus and Mercury low in the twilight, best seen half an hour after sunset with a level, unobstructed horizon, you may need binoculars to see Venus.

Venus is visible low in the twilight from around the 10th on.  

Mars is readily visible in the evening sky above the north-western horizon in the early evening. Mars is in Gemini. On the 6th Mars is just within binocular distance of the open cluster M35. You will need binoculars to see this as although M35 is technically unaided eye visible, low altitude makes the cluster too hard to see. On the 10th Mars is less than half a finger-width from Mebsuta, epsilon geminorum. 
   
Jupiter is climbing higher in the morning sky forming a line with Saturn. On the 6th the crescent Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter.
 
 Saturn is climbing higher in the morning sky and is now rising just before midnight. It is still best in the morning sky and is easily seen above Jupiter . On the 6th the crescent Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter. 
 
Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


 

Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to the current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/ 



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Planet Dance with Moon, 3-5 May 2021


Morning sky on Monday May 3 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide  at 4:30 am ACST. Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky with the waning Moon above.
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.
Morning sky on Tuesday May 4 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide  at 4:30 am ACST. Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky with the Last Quarter Moon being close to Saturn.
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.
Morning sky on Wednesday May 5 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide  at 4:30 am ACST. Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky and the waning Moon is close to Jupiter.
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.
Morning sky on Thursday May 6 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide  at 4:30 am ACST. Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky with the waning Moon is close to Jupiter.
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

If you are up early in the morning from the 3rd to the 6th you will see a beautiful dance between the planets Saturn and Jupiter and the waning Moon. On the 3rd the waning Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter. On the 4th the last quarter Moon is close to Saturn. On the 5th the Moon is between Saturn and Mars and on the 6th the crescent Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter again.You can see the three objects from 2 am (local time) on.

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Sunday, May 02, 2021

 

Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower 7-9 May, 2021


The north-eastern Horizon as seen from Adelaide at 4:30 am ACST, the eta Aquariid radiant is marked with a starburst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen). 
 
The eta Aquariid meteor shower, which is produced by the debris from Halley’s Comet, will peak on May 6, 03hUT, which is sadly after sunrise on May 6.  
 
Despite this, and interference from the light of the waning Moon which will be very close to the radiant, we will have worthwhile rates on the weekend mornings of May 8 and May 9, from 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM local time Australia-wide, where people with dark skies should see a meteor around every three to four minutes. 

While the peak is on the morning of the 6th during daylight, the peak is really broad and viewing from the 7-9 will give you decent rates (see table below). Based on the NASA meteor flux program (see below) and my own excel spreadsheet using Jennisken's eta Aquariid stream parameters the best rates will be seen from Australia on the mornings of the 8th and 9th (see table below, but the 7th is very worthwhile too, even the 10th if the other nights are clouded out, as you can see the rate difference between the nights is fairly marginal).

The waning Moon is very close to the radiant on the 6th and the 7th, even on the 8th and 9th the crescent Moon’s light will have an effect so try and find a position to watch the meteors where the Moon is blocked from view,

People in the suburbs should see a meteor around once every 6 minutes, and in the country about once every 3 minutes. The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4 am (see spotter chart at 4:30 am above).

Weather prediction looks good with clear mornings for most of Australia (except the bit where I live)

You may have read that this year the eta Aquariids have a predicted ZHR of 50 meteors. The figure ZHR is zenithal hourly rate. This is the number of meteors that a single observer would see per hour if the shower's "point of origin", or radiant, were at the zenith and the sky was dark enough for 6.5-magnitude stars to be visible to the naked eye.

In practice, you will never see this many meteors as the radiant will be some distance below the zenith. Also, unless you are out deep in the countryside, the darkness will be less than ideal. How many are you likely to see in reality? 

The table below gives predictions below for various towns, but they are only predictions and while based on average steam density there may be some differences year to year, but good rates were seen in previous years, and dark sky sites may possibly see one meteor every 4-5 minutes or so. There were many bright ones reported with persistent trains in 2014. People in the suburbs maybe will see less, but at least one every 6 minutes should be possible. 

Predicted meteor rates for selected towns (taken from NASA shower Flux estimator below). If your city is not on the list you can expect a meteor rate similar to the closest city to you in latitude.


TownMorning May 7 Morning May 8Morning May 9
Adelaide14 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr
Brisbane15 meteors/hr17 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr
Darwin16 meteors/hr18 meteors/hr17bmeteors/hr
Perth15 meteors/hr17 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr
Melbourne13 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr
Hobart13 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr
Sydney14 meteors/hr17 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr

The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4 am (see above for a spotter chart at 5 am). When looking, be sure to let your eyes adjust for at least 5 minutes so your eyes can be properly adapted to the dark.

Don't look directly at the radiant site, because the meteors will often start their "burn" some distance from it, but around a hand-span up or to the side. The best way to watch the Eta Aquariids is to let your eye rove around the entire patch of the sky above the north-east horizon, between the only two obvious bright stars in the northeast, Altair and Fomalhaut, and Jupiter and Saturn as the centre of your field (again, see the spotter chart at 4:30 am above).

Be patient, although you should see an average of a meteor every 3 to 6 minutes, a whole stretch of time can go by without a meteor, then a whole bunch turn up one after the other.

Make yourself comfortable, choose an observing site that has little to obstruct the eastern horizon, have a comfortable chair to sit in (a banana lounger is best), or blankets and pillows. Rug up against the cold.  A hot Thermos of something to drink and plenty of mosquito protection will complete your observing preparations. As well as meteors, keep an eye out for satellites (see Heavens Above for predictions from your site).  The Milky way will arch above you, with Jupiter and Saturn just above te radiant.


Use the NASA  meteor shower flux estimator for an estimate of what the shower will be like from your location (you may need to enter your longitude and latitude, surprisingly, while Adelaide and Brisbane are hard-wired in, Sydney and Melbourne are not). See the image to the left for typical output. The peak is rather sharp.

Unfortunately, both Chrome and Firefox have changed their security settings to prevent plugins from running, and the flux estimator only runs under Internet Explorer now.

You need to choose 31 Eta Aquariids and remember to set the date to  7-8 or 8-9 May 2021 and turn off daylight saving time. You can follow the progress of the shower at the IMO live Aquariid site.

Guides for taking meteor photos are here and here.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Saturday, May 01, 2021

 

Southern Skywatch May 2021 edition is now out!


Morning sky on Wednesday May 5 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide at 5:21am ACST (90 minutes before sunrise). Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky and the waning Moon is close to Jupiter.

 
The insets show the telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn at this time. 
 
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.
 
 
The May edition of Southern Skywatch is now up.

The planetary action moves to the evening sky with Mercury and Venus returning. Saturn and Jupiter put on a good show in the morning early in the month and begin to appear in the evening skies later in the month.

1 May; Mars in a binocular distance of the open cluster M35. 4 May; Saturn close to the crescent Moon in the morning. 5 May; Saturn, Jupiter and the crescent Moon form a triangle in the morning. 6 May; Jupiter above the crescent Moon in the morning. 7-8 May; Eta Aquariid meteor shower. May 12; Moon at Apogee. May 13; crescent Moon between Mercury and Venus low in the twilight. 14 May, crescent Moon above Mercury. May 16; Mars and crescent Moon close. May 26; Moon at perigee (perigee Full Moon, "super" Moon) with total Lunar eclipse.

 Mercury returns to the evening twilight and is visible after the first week of May. On the 13th the thin crescent Moon forms a line with Venus and Mercury low in the twilight, best seen half an hour after sunset with a level, unobstructed western horizon, you may need binoculars to see Venus.

Venus returns to the evening skies being visible low in the twilight from around the 10th on. On the 13th the thin crescent Moon forms a line with Venus and Mercury low in the twilight, best seen half an hour after sunset with a level, unobstructed horizon, you may need binoculars to see Venus. 

Mars  iis visible low in the north-western to western evening sky. Mars is long past opposition, but despite being as bright as gamma crucis it is still readily identifiable from its colour. Mars is low above the western horizon, best seen an hour and a half after sunset. Mars is in Gemini this month. On the 1st Mars forms a triangle with the brightish stars mu and eta geminorum, and is within a binocular field of the open cluster M35. 

 Jupiter begins to rise before midnight from mid-month but is still best seen in the morning. On the 4th, 5th and 6th the crescent Moon, Saturn and Jupiter have interesting encounters. On the 3rd the Moon and two planets form a line, On the 4th the last quarter Moon is close to Saturn then on the 5th the crescent Moon is between Saturn and Jupiter (but much closer to Jupiter) finally on the 6th the thin crescent Moon is below Jupiter forming a line with the two planets again. Then again on the 30th the moon is above Saturn and on the 31st the Moon is between Saturn and Jupiter.

Saturn begins to rise before midnight from the beginning of the month but is still best seen in the morning. On the 4th, 5th and 6th the crescent Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter have interesting encounters. On the 3rd the Moon and two planets from a line, On the 4th the last quarter Moon is close to Saturn then on the 5th the crescent Moon is between Saturn and Jupiter (but much closer to Jupiter) finally on the 6th the thin crescent Moon is below Jupiter forming a line with the two planets again. Then again on the 30th the moon is above Saturn and on the 31st the Moon is between Saturn and Jupiter. Apogee April 15; Moon at perigee April 28 (1 am 11 hours after Full so a super moon, May will be better).

The Eta Aquariid meteor shower officially peaks after sunrise on the morning of the 6th (Australian time), for Australia the best time to see the eta-Aquariids is in the early mornings of May 7, 8 and 9, between around 4 and 5 am, when Aquarius is fairly high above the horizon.

May 12; Moon at Apogee. May 26; Moon at perigee (perigee Full Moon, "super" Moon) with total Lunar eclipse.

You don't need special filters or fancy equipment to watch the lunar eclipse, you just need your eyes and somewhere comfortable to sit and watch. Watching the shadow of earth creep across the Moons face is quite entrancing. The moon doesn't go completely dark, but will be a deep coppery red due to light scattered from Earth's atmosphere. The eclipse will start in the early evening (twilight WA) and is visible throughout Australia. 

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

 

Thursday April 29 to Thursday May 6

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday, May 4. Saturn and Jupiter are readily visible in the morning sky. On the 3rd the waning Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter. On the 4th the last quarter Moon is close to Saturn. On the 5th the Moon is between Saturn and Mars and on the 6th the cresnt  Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter again. Dimming Mars is readily visible in the early evening skies. From the 29th to the 6th Mars is in binocular range of the open cluster M35. On the 6th the eta Aquariid meteor shower begins its peak.

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday, May 4.

Morning sky on Wednesday
May 5 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide  at 5:21am ACST (90 minutes before sunrise). Saturn and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky and the waning Moon is close to Jupiter.
 
The insets shows the telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn at this time. 
 
 
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.
 
 
Whole sky at 18:59 ACST  (90 minutes after sunset), on Saturday, May 1 as seen from 
Adelaide
 
 
 

  

Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). click to embiggen.



Evening sky at 19:06 ACST  (90 minutes after sunset), on Saturday, May 1  facing north-west as seen from Adelaide.  

Mars forms a triangle with the brightish stars mu (Tejat) and eta geminorum, and is within binocular distance of M35. The inset shows the approximate binocular view at this time. 


Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset), click to embiggen.
   

The eta Aquariid meteor shower peaks on the morning of 6 May, sadly after sunrise in Australia, although good rates will be seen on the mornings of the 7th, 8th and 9th from 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM

The eta Aquarids are debris from Halleys comet. the best time to see the eta Aquariid meteor shower between around 4 and 5 am, when Aquarius is fairly high above the horizon and the crescent Moon is low. You may see between a meteor every 3-4  minutes at this time. The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4 am (see diagram above). 
 
 
Mercury is  lost in the twilight but is visible in the evening twilight  next week.

Venus is lost in the twilight but is also visible in the evening twilight late next week.

Mars is readily visible in the evening sky above the north-western horizon in the early evening. Mars is beyond the stars that form the tips of the horns of Taurus the Bull heading towards Gemini. On the 29th to the 6th Mars is is within binocular distance of the open cluster M35. You will need binoculars to see this as although M35 is technically unaided eye visible, the moonlight and low altitude makes the cluster too hard to see. On the 1st Mars forms a triangle with the brightish stars mu and eta geminorum, A little juggling gets all 4 objects in one binocular field.
   
Jupiter is climbing higher in the morning sky forming a line with Saturn. On the 3rd the waning Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter.
 
 Saturn is climbing higher in the morning sky and is easily seen above Jupiter . On the 3rd the waning Moon forms a line with Saturn and Jupiter. On the 4th the last quarter Moon is close to Saturn.
 
Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


 

Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to the current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/ 



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