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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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