THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN MAY 2021

Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 12 hours). Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.1.

THE SUN and PLANETS in MAY 2021, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
          May 1        NZST           May 31        NZST  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Ari   7.05am  5.29pm  -26.7  Tau   7.33am  5.03pm
Merc  -1.1  Ari   8.18am  6.00pm    2.9  Tau   8.46am  5.59pm
Venus -3.9  Ari   7.52am  5.56pm   -3.8  Tau   8.59am  6.05pm
Mars   1.6  Gem  11.33am  8.34pm    1.7  Gem  10.46am  8.04pm
Jup   -2.2  Aqr  12.54am  2.34pm   -2.4  Aqr  11.12pm 12.45pm
Sat    0.7  Cap  11.35pm  1.52pm    0.6  Cap   9.39pm 11.56am
Uran   5.9  Ari   7.06am  5.29pm    5.9  Ari   5.13am  3.32pm
Nep    7.9  Aqr   2.56am  3.33pm    7.9  Aqr   1.01am  1.36pm
Pluto 14.5  Sgr  10.09pm  1.06pm   14.5  Sgr   8.09pm 11.08am

              May 1  NZST          May 31  NZST
Twilights    morning     evening       morning     evening
Civil:    start 6.39am, end 5.56pm   start 7.05am, end  5.31pm
Nautical: start 6.06am, end 6.29pm   start 6.31am, end  6.06pm
Astro:    start 5.34am, end 7.01pm   start 5.58am, end  6.39pm

   FEB PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZST & UT
  Last quarter:  May  4 at  7.50am (May 6, 19:50 UT)
  New Moon:      May 12 at  7.00am (May 11,19:00 UT)
  First quarter: May 20 at  7.13am (May 19, 19:13 UT)
  Full Moon:     May 26 at 11.14pm (11:14 UT)

A brief total eclipse of rhe moon takes place late evening of May 26. The eclipse is total from 11:11:58 pm to 11:26:47 pm, a duration of just under 15 minutes. Greatest eclipse is at 11:18:43 when the northern, lower edge of the moon will be only just inside the umbra. Hence this edge of the moon is likely to be brightest. The eclipse is partial from 9:44:44 pm to 12:52:49. All stages of the eclipse are visible from New Zealand and eastern Australia with totality visible from all parts of the continent.

THE PLANETS in MAY 2021

MERCURY and VENUS move in tandem to the east through the stars during April. They are quite close to one another and to the Sun all month, as a result observation will be difficult.

At first Mercury draws ahead of Venus reaching its greatest elongation 22° east of the Sun on the 17th. The planet then slows until it is stationary on the 30th. This enables Venus to overtake Mercury, the two being 0.4° on the 29th.

By the end of May, the planets set about an hour after the Sun. Half an hour after sunset Venus will be just over 4° above the horizon, Mercury slightly less.

MARS continues to set about 3 hours after the Sun all month. The crescent moon will be just over 2° below the planet on May 16, best seen about 6pm. Both Mars and the moon are north of the ecliptic so will be fairly low in New Zealand skies.

JUPITER and SATURN are still best observed in the morning sky, although both rise before midnight by the 31st. The moon is some 3.5° from Saturn on the morning of May 4 and again on the 31st. It is 4.5° from Jupiter in the morning of May 5.

Jupiter's equator is close to edge on as seen from the Earth. As a result a series of mutual events of the Jovian satellites is occurring. Many are visible from New Zealand. Predictions can be found using Dave Herald's Occult program.

URANUS becomes a morning object following its end of April conjunction with the Sun. By the end of May it rises two hours before the Sun, so will be observable before the sky brightens.

NEPTUNE moves further up into the morning sky.

PLUTO Rises during the evening in May, now about an hour and a half before Saturn.

POSSIBLE BINOCULAR ASTEROIDS in May

                  May 1 NZST          May 30 NZST  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
 (1) Ceres      9.1   Psc  11.31am    9.2   Cet  10.17am
 (4) Vesta      7.0   Leo   8.33pm    7.0   Leo   6.54pm

CERES rise at 5.42am on the 1st and 4.42am on the 31st, so becomes visible in the morning sky. It moves from Pisces to Cetus on May 13.

VESTA sets at 1.33am on May 1 and at 12.07am on the 31st. Thus it is visible in the evening sky.

Brian Loader

 

 

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