These notes are intended to provide a casual sky watcher or someone already into amateur astronomy living in Eastern Australia with a summary of what is happening in the night sky in May 2013. The finder charts have been produced for an observer based in Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) but will be useful for observers elsewhere in Eastern Australia.
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Planets for May 2013
Jupiter remains visible all month very low above the North Western horizon as the sky darkens. By the end of May, you will need a clear horizon to locate it. Jupiter is too low however for any practical telescopic observing to be undertaken and it sets soon after the sky darkens. Venus and Mercury make their return to the evening sky as May draws to a close. A dazzling close encounter between Jupiter, Venus and Mercury occurs in the evening twilight sky over the period 26 – 28 May. Saturn is now just past opposition and is easily located all month above the Eastern horizon as soon as twilight ends. Saturn is currently just past it’s closest point to the Earth in its orbit – meaning that even a small telescope will show you the famous rings of Saturn. Uranus and Neptune are located in the morning sky. Mars remains close to the Sun during May preventing it from being visible by Earth bound observers. Dwarf planet Pluto rises mid-evening mid-month but will be extremely difficult to locate visually using even a very large amateur telescope.
Individual sky events (May 2013)
All times AEST unless otherwise stated.
2 May 2013: 9:14 pm Last Quarter Moon
6 May 2013: 11 am Eta Aquariad meteor shower forecast to peak at an zenith hourly rate of 55. Due to daylight, the peak is not forecast to be visible from Eastern Australia. The shower is active over the period April 19 – May 28 and is produced by dust released from Halley’s Comet. Meteors are visible in the hours preceding dawn. More information: www.imo.net
10 May 2013: Venus at ascending node
10 May 2013: 10:28 am New Moon
10 May 2013: Annular / Partial Solar Eclipse visible across Australia. Go here for eclipse times for all Australian capital cities and a pinhole viewer. Maximum eclipse for Brisbane occurs at 8:57.49 am.
11 May 2013: Mercury at ascending node
12 May 2013: 7 am Mercury in superior conjunction
12 May 2013: Moon located to left of Jupiter in the evening twilight sky low above the North Western horizon.
13 May 2013: Midnight Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth) in its orbit at a distance of 405,825 kilometres.
16 May 2013: Mercury at perihelion
18 May 2013: 2:35 pm First Quarter Moon
22 May 2013: 9 pm Moon occults Spica as seen from parts of Queensland (North of Brisbane) and the Northern Territory. More information here.
23 May 2013: Waxing gibbous Moon located to right of Saturn
25 May 2013: Mars at ascending node
25 May 2013: 2:25 pm Full Moon
25 May 2013: Penumbral Lunar eclipse. Not visible from Australia
26 May 2013: Mercury at greatest latitude North
26 May 2013: 12 pm (Midday) Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) in its orbit at a distance of 358,377 kilometres
26 – 28 May 2013: Mercury, Venus and Jupiter have a close encounter in the glow of the evening twilight low above the North Western horizon.
For Further Information
Customised Astronomy & Satellite Viewing information
Information on how to obtain customised astronomy & satellite viewing information for your location can be found here on this website.
The information in this post has been prepared using the following references.
Astronomy 2013, Quasar Publishing http://www.quasarastronomy.
Sky Safari Pro Ipad app, http://www.southernstars.com/