Sky at Night Magazine - - THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE - With Glenn Dawes May’s eastern sky of­fers a chance to see a close en­counter of Mer­cury and Venus

When to use this chart

1 May at 00:00 AEDT (13.00 UT) 15 May at 23:00 AEDT (12.00 UT) 31 May at 22:00 AEDT (11.00 UT)


The eastern dawn sky on 3 May presents a spec­tac­u­lar con­junc­tion, the thin cres­cent (27- day old) Moon is 4° to the lower right of bril­liant Venus. Mer­cury is also ob­vi­ous be­ing 5° di­rectly be­low the Moon. The best time to ob­serve this event is one hour be­fore sun­rise (at 05:30 AEDT). Venus is drop­ping to­wards its next so­lar con­junc­tion as Uranus rises out of the Sun’s glow. These plan­ets pass each other, be­ing clos­est on 19 May at only 1°, and vis­i­ble in binoculars.


Mars con­tin­ues its pres­ence low in the north­west­ern twi­light sky dur­ing May. As Jupiter ap­proaches op­po­si­tion next month, it ar­rives around the time the Red Planet de­parts, be­ing vis­i­ble for most of the night. Saturn soon fol­lows its fel­low The chart ac­cu­rately matches the sky on the dates and times shown for Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. The sky is dif­fer­ent at other times as the stars cross­ing it set four min­utes ear­lier each night.


Low in the north­ern evening sky lies the prom­i­nent star Arc­turus. It is the al­pha star to the con­stel­la­tion of Boötes, form­ing the top lu­mi­nary of its in­verted kite pat­tern. Arc­turus also holds a place in his­tory, with its light gen­er­at­ing an elec­tric charge used to open the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. But why this specifc star? At the time Arc­turus was thought to be 40 lightyears away and that the light used in 1933 would have left the star at the time Chicago held its pre­vi­ous World Fair in 1893. gas gi­ant into the eastern sky, with both tran­sit­ing in the morn­ing hours. Turn­ing to the morn­ing, Venus rises just be­fore dawn all month. May com­mences with Mer­cury just be­low Venus but this in­ner world is lost to the so­lar glare by mid month.

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