Monthly Skywatchers' Page

For London and the UK

Sun And Nine Planets
The Sun and eight major planets (plus KBO Pluto) to scale. Earth is third planet from the left.


Introduction

The location of the stars and constellations can be learnt throughout a single year from books, mobile phone applications or planetarium software. Each month of the year, the same stars are visible from a given location. Different stars and constellations are visible as the year progresses. For example, in London, the constellation of Orion is always visible in the evenings of winter months of January and February. Scorpius is visible in the summer months of June and July around midnight.

The planets resemble stars except that, generally, they do not twinkle. Unlike the stars whose patterns are fixed, planets wander through the sky changing their positions amongst the starry background. This means that their periods of visibility change as the relative position of the Earth, Sun and planet vary. In one year Mars may be visible in August at midnight. In another year it may be behind the Sun and invisible from Earth during August.

This page gives the details of visibility for the five naked eye planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. It also gives information about comets, meteor showers and non-regular phenomena like eclipses, transits and occultations.

The Observers' Glossary explains the terms used. Alternatively run the mouse cursor over terms in maroon.


The descriptions below are for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, especially London and the United Kingdom.
The planetary information is valid for any location at the same or similar Latitude (51.5°N).
Note that a degree in the sky is twice the apparent diameter of the Moon.

All times on this page are London (UK) times. This is normally GMT (Greenwich Mean Time also known as Universal Time).
In the United Kingdom, the clocks go forward by one hour for British Summer Time (BST) between mid March and late October.
A 24 hour clock is used so that 7pm is written 19:00.


May 2019

Mercury

Mercury

Mercury is too close to the Sun to be visible for most of the month.

Look for the planet low above the North West horizon about an hour after sunset in the last few days of the month.

Venus

Venus

Venus is too close to the Sun and will not be visible.

Mars

Mars

Mars begins the month in Taurus to the right of the setting Orion.

The planet sets at midnight at the beginning of the month but its period of visibility reduces during May. Look for the red star-like object in the North of West after it gets dark. This is the last complete month that Mars will be easy to see.

The crescent Moon will be close to Mars on 7th.

The planet will pass into Gemini on 16th.

Jupiter

Jupiter

Jupiter now rises before midnight and is prominent in the southern sky in the early hours.

The Moon will be close to the planet on 20th and 21st.

The planet is among the stars of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer.

The red star close to Jupiter is Antares, the brightest star of Scorpius. Jupiter will remain close to this star throughout most of 2019.

Through a small telescope the planet's four large moons can be seen resembling little stars, changing position night to night.

By the end of the month Jupiter will be rising around 10pm.

Saturn

Saturn

Saturn begins the month rising around 01:30.

The planet is among the stars of Sagittarius and is close to the Moon on 23rd.

Throughout the month, Saturn is visible to the left of the much brighter Jupiter.

By the end of the month, the planet will be rising at midnight. A small telescope will show the famous rings.

Sun

The Sun

The Sun continues to move northwards, making the days longer in the Northern Hemisphere.

During May, the length of the day increases from 14 hours 50 minutes to 16 hours 16 minutes, an increase of 1 hour 26 minutes. At the beginning of the month the Sun climbs to nearly 54 degrees above the horizon at noon. This increases to over 60 degrees at the end of May.

The 16 hour day occurs on 24th. The 9pm sunset occurs on 26th.

The Sun begins the month in Aries and enters Taurus on 14th.

Note that the astronomical Zodiac dates (the actual Zodiac dates) do not tie in with astrology as astrologers are using dates from two thousand years ago.

Date Sunrise Midday Sunset Length of Day Sun's Noon Altitude Notes
01-May
05:33
12:57
20:23
14h 50m
53.6°
 
02-May
05:31
12:57
20:24
14h 53m
53.9°
 
03-May
05:29
12:57
20:26
14h 57m
54.2°
 
04-May
05:27
12:57
20:28
15h 00m
54.5°
New Moon at 23:46 - 15 hour day
05-May
05:25
12:57
20:29
15h 03m
54.8°
 
06-May
05:24
12:57
20:31
15h 07m
55.0°
 
07-May
05:22
12:57
20:32
15h 10m
55.3°
Moon close to Mars
08-May
05:20
12:57
20:34
15h 13m
55.6°
 
09-May
05:18
12:56
20:36
15h 17m
55.9°
 
10-May
05:17
12:56
20:37
15h 20m
56.1°
 
11-May
05:15
12:56
20:39
15h 23m
56.4°
 
12-May
05:13
12:56
20:40
15h 26m
56.6°
Evening Half Moon
13-May
05:12
12:56
20:42
15h 29m
56.9°
 
14-May
05:10
12:56
20:43
15h 33m
57.1°
 
15-May
05:09
12:56
20:45
15h 36m
57.4°
 
16-May
05:07
12:56
20:46
15h 39m
57.6°
 
17-May
05:06
12:56
20:48
15h 41m
57.8°
 
18-May
05:04
12:56
20:49
15h 44m
58.0°
Full Moon (Libra) at 22:11
19-May
05:03
12:56
20:51
15h 47m
58.3°
 
20-May
05:02
12:57
20:52
15h 50m
58.5°
Moon close to Jupiter
21-May
05:00
12:57
20:54
15h 53m
58.7°
Moon close to Jupiter - 5am sunrise
22-May
04:59
12:57
20:55
15h 55m
58.9°
 
23-May
04:58
12:57
20:56
15h 58m
59.1°
Moon close to Saturn
24-May
04:57
12:57
20:58
16h 00m
59.3°
16 hour day
25-May
04:56
12:57
20:59
16h 03m
59.4°
 
26-May
04:55
12:57
21:00
16h 05m
59.6°
Morning Half Moon - 9pm sunset
27-May
04:54
12:57
21:02
16h 08m
59.8°
 
28-May
04:52
12:57
21:03
16h 10m
60.0°
 
29-May
04:52
12:57
21:04
16h 12m
60.1°
 
30-May
04:51
12:58
21:05
16h 14m
60.3°
 
31-May
04:50
12:58
21:06
16h 16m
60.4°
 

Moon

The Moon

The Moon will be close to Mars on 7th.

The Moon will be close to Jupiter on 20th.

The Moon will be close to Jupiter on 21st.

The Moon will be close to Saturn on 23rd.


It is easy to depend on astronomy or CMMS software to perform daily computational activities and to keep track of data. Astronomy enthusiasts can choose from a wide variety of software options, while facility managers may have fewer options if they require CMMS software for their business.


Next Month

Mercury in the evening. Saturn in the morning. Jupiter all night long. Solstice.


All times on this page are London (UK) times.

Sources: Astronomy Now magazine, Cybersky, Starry Night Pro, USA Naval Observatory and UK Nautical Almanac Office.

© 2018 KryssTal
All sky images by Starry Night Pro Plus 6
Eclipse predictions (maps) courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC


Books From Amazon.co.uk


Observers' Glossary

An explanation of the terms used by sky observers. Includes descriptions of how the objects of the solar system behave in the sky as seen from Earth (especially the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes).


KryssTal Related Pages

Tables and data about the Sun, Earth, Moon, planets, asteroids and comets. All terms used are explained.

An account of how various properties of stars can be measured by studying starlight. Includes brightness, distance, luminosity, temperature, mass, radius, density and an introduction to the H-R Diagram.

A table containing a list of the 20 brightest stars in the Earth's sky. Explanations of all the associated terms like magnitude, spectral type and radial velocity.

A detailed account about eclipses, transits and occultations. These are irregular phenomena that can be observed in the sky. Includes eclipse trips around the world with photos and well as photos of recent transists of Mercury and Venus.

An easy-to-understand scaling of the Universe in space. Distances in space are represented by the time light takes to travel there.

An easy-to-understand scaling of the Universe in time. The chronology of the Universe is compared to a real year.

How humanity came from believing Creation Myths to postulating the Inflationary Big Bang Theory. The key stages in our understanding of our place in the cosmos and the people who broadened our understanding.

What do we mean by the words day, week, month, year? Who invented our calendar? When did the third millennium begin? The relation between time and astronomy.

The force that moves apples and planets. A short introduction to the ideas of Kepler and Newton that culminated with the theory of Universal Gravitation.

A look at the mathematics of a sphere with a section on sundials and the equation of time.


External Skywatching Links

These links will open in a separate window

StarDate Online
An excellent online skywatchers' magazine featuring detailed monthly information about astronomical events.

Astronomy Picture of the Day
A different image each day with an extensive archive and explanations.

Society for Popular Astronomy
Monthly planet and star gazing details with maps for young people.

Telescope House
A London based source of astronomical equipment, telescopes, software, maps and books.

Southern Sky Watch
Sky watchers information for the southern hemisphere.

Starry Night Pro
Superb planetarium software. Simulate the sky from anywhere on the Earth and any time.