May 2016 – Where to look for the planets

A few pointers:

  • All planets visible to the unaided eye look like stars. Planets visible to the unaided eye include Mercury, Venus, Earth (look down!), Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
  • In a telescope, Uranus and Neptune are visible as tiny discs. The dwarf planet Pluto remains looking like a star in even the largest amateur telescope.
  • Stars are shown to magnitude 5 on the charts unless otherwise noted. This is a compromise between what you would see from the light polluted skies of a city (where you will see significantly less stars) and dark country skies (where you will see significantly more stars).
  • Unless otherwise noted, the finder charts are provided for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The charts will be useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia.
  • Times are listed in Australian Eastern Standard Time and Australian Eastern Daylight Savings time when in force. As a guide, in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory in 2016, Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday 3 April and begins on Sunday 2 October 2016.

2 May 2016 – Moon and Neptune finder chart – Early morning sky

Moon and Neptune finder chart. Chart prepared for 5:15 am AEST on Monday 2 May 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Stars are shown to magnitude 8 to assist you in star hopping from the Moon to Neptune. Note that Neptune is currently magnitude 8 and not visible to the unaided eye. A pair of large binoculars or a small telescope will be required to view Neptune. It is located 454 million kilometers from the Earth and will only look like a blueish star in even a very large amateur telescope. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Moon and Neptune finder chart. Chart prepared for 5:15 am AEST on Monday 2 May 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Stars are shown to magnitude 8 to assist you in star hopping from the Moon to Neptune. Note that Neptune is currently magnitude 8 and not visible to the unaided eye. A pair of large binoculars or a small telescope will be required to view Neptune. It is located 454 million kilometers from the Earth and will only look like a blueish star in even a very large amateur telescope. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

9 & 10 May 2016 – Transit of Mercury

Note that the transit of Mercury across the disc of the Sun on 9 – 10 May 2016 will not be visible from Australia. Maximum transit occurs shortly before 1 am AEST on the morning of  Tuesday 10 May 2016. More information about the 2016 and 2019 transits by Mercury of the Sun (neither visible from Australia) can be found here. The next transit of Mercury visible in Australian skies will occur on Saturday 13 November 2032.

Transit of Mercury finder chart. Chart prepared for 4.41 p.m. AEST on Saturday 13 November 2032 for Gold Coast, Australia Capital Territory (but will be useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Mercury has just started its ingress of the Sun. Remember to use safe solar viewing methods to watch this event. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Transit of Mercury finder chart. Chart prepared for 4.41 p.m. AEST on Saturday 13 November 2032 for Gold Coast, Australia Capital Territory (but will be useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Mercury has just started its ingress of the Sun. Remember to use safe solar viewing methods to watch this event. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

15 May 2016 – Moon and Jupiter finder chart – Evening sky

Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Moon and Jupiter finder chart. Chart prepared for 7 p.m. AEST on Sunday 15 May 2016 for Canberra, Australia Capital Territory (but will be useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

22 May 2016 – Moon, Mars, Saturn and Antares finder chart – Evening sky

Moon and Jupiter finder chart. Chart prepared for 7 p.m. AEST / 8 p.m. AEDT on Sunday 15 May 2016 for Canberra, Australia Capital Territory (but will be useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Moon, Mars, Saturn and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius ‘The Scorpion’)  finder chart. Mars reaches opposition tonight and will reach a dazzling magnitude -2.1 (dazzling by Mars standards anyway). Chart prepared for 7 p.m. AEST on Sunday 22 May 2016 for Canberra, Australia Capital Territory (but will be useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

16 May 2016 to 5 September 2016 – Mars, Saturn and Antares finder chart –  Early evening sky

Mars, Saturn and Antares finder chart for 16 May to 5 September 2016. Look after evening twilight has ended.

Mars, Saturn and Antares finder chart for 16 May to 5 September 2016. Look after evening twilight has ended.

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