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  • Chris Baker

What's Up? - MAY 2021

Each month I highlight a few objects you can spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment. Here are the exciting things for May!


The planets have not been putting on such a fine show over the past few months but now they are beginning to emerge so you'll have a feat during May.


Mercury is always a tough one to spot as it leis so close to the Sun- however, this month it gradually appears from the Sun's glare to put on a show.

How to Observe

The planet is only just beginning to appear early in the month in the evening sky.

At around 9pm BST, about 40 minutes after sunset it can be seen shining low down in the north-north west.

By the 10th of May it will be about 10 degrees above the horizon and shining brightly. (around 9:20pm BST).

At the end of the month you may spot Venus and Mercury close together - not an easy spot but let me know if you manage this!

Mercury mid month close to Venus with a view of Mars and the Moon

Courtesy of Stellarium

The Gas Giants - Jupiter and Saturn

Over the past few months the two giant planets have been inching their way up to be visible in the pre-dawn sky. By the latter half of may

both planets will be visible.

How to Observe

early in the month Saturn will be the first to appear over the horizon early in the morning. It will achieve 14 degrees above the south-eastern horizon. The viewing comes to an end by civil twilight which then is about 5am BST.

Jupiter is even brighter and slightly lower and east of Saturn.

Later in the month both planets will brighten and be slightly higher before the morning light stops the viewing. Good luck with both and let me know if you spot them together!

Saturn and Jupiter later in the month early morning south easterly direction

Courtesy of Stellarium


This month's full moon will occur on the 26th May and will be a so-called super moon.

A super moon is when the Moon is at perigee - the point in its monthly elliptical orbit nearest the earth.

Compared to the November and December full moons it will lie almost 50,000 kilometers close and appear 13.5% bigger.

The moon also appears larger when it is closer to the horizon which of course is an optical illusion.

I will send out a reminder a day or so prior to this event.

Super Moon on the evening of 26th May looking South East

Courtesy of Stellarium

Enjoy the night sky this month and let me know about your observations

Thank you for reading this blog and do let me know if there is anything you would like me to add to my Newsletter each month.

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