Dear Stargazer Friends,

Thank you for visiting the Astronomy Guide May 2021. I hope you have been well. Short update from my side: I’m still waiting for delivery of my new guiding. So, unfortunately for me, April was another month without any astrophotography with a telescope. By the way, if you are planning to purchase new astronomy equipment, currently it potentially takes several weeks or, worse months, until it is shipped to you…

This month Mercury will make a short comeback (3-16 May). Jupiter and Saturn are now well visible before dawn and on 31 May, the Waning Gibbous Moon will be in conjunction with Saturn. On 26 May, the Full Moon will be once again a Supermoon

The constellation of Lyra – with double star Vega (Alpha Lyr) – is visible earlier now. And with it, the Summer Triangle (northern hemisphere) of Altair, Daneb and Vega will appear again in the eastern sky (late nights/early mornings).

This month, the Summer Beehive Cluster in the constellation of Ophiuchus will also make a comeback in the northern hemisphere (best to be observed after midnight). The Galaxies in the constellation of Leo and Virgo will remain interesting objects to observe throughout the month.

I hope you’ll enjoy my picks and please come back for the June issue.

Clear skies and stay well!

Best wishes,
Isa

Waxing Gibbous Moon, 24 April 2021 – Picture by Isabel Streit 2021

Moon phases May 2021

PhaseDate
Third Quarter 3 May, 21:50 – Rise: 03:03 (126°)
New Moon11 May, 20:59
First Quarter19 May, 21:12 – Rise: 00:01 (130°)
Full Moon (Super Full Moon at 03:50 CET Bern, Switzerland – Distance Earth-Moon: 357’378 km)26 May, 13:13 – Rise: 21:32 (124°)
Moon phases May 2021 (times Bern, Switzerland)

Dwarf planets & Asteroids

Dwarf planet (136472) Makemake is still visible in Coma Berenices (mag. 16.93). Another Dwarf planet (136108) Haumea (mag. 17.2) is in the constellation of Bootes.

Asteroid (4) Vesta is still in the constellation of Leo and currently has an apparent magnitude of around 7.4.

Planets

Mercury will make a short comeback from 3 until 16 May 2021 and only for a short time at dusk – check ephemeris tables below (for Bern, Switzerland – go to In-The-Sky.org for your local ephemeris).

Unfortunately, Venus will still not be observable in May (at least not from Switzerland since we don’t have a true horizon here) – we’ll have to wait till end of June 2021.

Mars continues to be visible in the constellation of Gemini. Best observed right after dusk. 

Jupiter is in the constellation of Aquarius and can be observed in the very early morning – earlier each day as the month progresses.

Saturn can be observed in the constellation of Capricornus (appears close to Jupiter) – early mornings before dawn.

Uranus and Neptune are not visible in May.

Ephemeris for Mercury

For your local times go to In-The-Sky.org

Ephemeris Credit: Dominic Ford https://in-the-sky.org

Ephemeris for Mars

Ephemeris Credit: Dominic Ford https://in-the-sky.org/

Ephemeris Jupiter

Ephemeris Credit: Dominic Ford https://in-the-sky.org/

Ephemeris Saturn

Ephemeris Credit: Dominic Ford https://in-the-sky.org/

Moon conjunctions with Jupiter & Saturn

3 May very early morning: Waning Gibbous Moon in the constellation of Capricornus appears close to Saturn.

5 May at dawn: observe the rising Waning Crescent Moon in conjunction with Jupiter.

31 May before dawn, we’ll have another chance to see the Moon in conjunction with Saturn.

Waning Moon, Jupiter & Saturn seen from Switzerland, 4 May 2021 – (c) Isabel Streit 2021

Meteor shower

1.5.-9.5.2021: May Librids – peak on 6 May

4.5.-6.5.2021: Peak of the Eta Aquariides – best observable in southern hemisphere. 

Galaxies

The Galaxies in Coma Berencies (Coma B) and in the constellation of Leo (the Leo Triplet aka M 66 Group) as well as in the constellation of Virgo will remain visible throughout May. Another interesting constellation is Canis Venatici with the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), the Sunflower Galaxy (M63) and the Crosc’s Eye Galaxy (M94). Equally interesting is M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy) in Ursa Majoris.

Star clusters

The Summer Beehive Cluster (IC 4665) in the constellation of Ophiuchus will make a comeback – if you stay up till well after 1 a.m. Other fascinating Star Clusters to observe in May: M 13 (the Great Star Cluster in Hercules), M 92 (globular star cluster in Hercules), M 5 (Rose Cluster in Serpens), M 3 in Canis Venatici, M 53 in Coma Berencies.

Bright nebulae

In order to see/take pictures of the many nebulae in the constellation of Cygnus (North America Nebula, Pelican Nebula, Crescent Nebula,…) you’ll have to stay up till well after midnight. But at least one interesting object that can be observed before midnight is the Ring Nebula (M 57) in Lyra – and of course, Vega (alpha Lyra), the pulsating variable star (double star). Or have a go at Ghost Nebula in Cepheus

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