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The Planets

Planet Data For May

Click on any planet below to go straight to its section.

MercuryVenusMarsJupiterSaturnUranusNeptuneObs for All

The table below shows key data for the planets this month, including rise, transit and set times, as well as magnitude, apparent size and position data (right ascension and declination).

Events that occur when the sun is below the horizon are shown with a black background and white text. All other events happen when the sun is in the sky and other for not visible for observation.

The month of May brings Saturn and Neptune back to our early morning skies, with prime viewing of both planets, just prior to sunrise.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus all continue to be a challenge to observe this month, as they all rise and set alongside the sun’s cycle.  We will still need to wait several months before they return for easier viewing.

All of the images below can be opened full screen in a new tab by clicking on them


Mercury

05th May

Mercury is just barely visible in the early morning sky, at only 4° high on the western horizon.

15th May

As the sun rises earlier each day this month, Mercury becomes increasingly difficult to view.

25th May

Mercury remains a challenge to view, at only 4° high during the morning sunrise.

Mercury is a challenge for viewing during the month of May, as it sets before evening dusk and does not rise until moments before sunrise each morning.

It continues to stretch even further from the sun until May 9th when it reaches its greatest elongation, its farthest distance from the sun, during the early morning hours.  We can catch a glimpse of it shortly before sunrise at 5° high in the eastern sky, shining relatively dim at magnitude +0.4. 

The planet Mercury continues to brighten for the rest of the month, however becomes even more difficult to view due to the early rising sun.

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Venus

05th May

Venus is found at the horizon, just prior to morning sunrise, making it almost impossible to view.

15th May

Venus is a mere 1° high in the sky at 6:00 this morning.

25th May

Venus is once again found on the horizon, and fading from view in the morning sky.

Venus is again hidden from our view this month, as it is hovers right on the horizon.  It continues to shine at its minimum magnitude of -3.9 while at 100% illumination.

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Mars

05th May

At 5am today, Mars is just slightly visible at 5° above the horizon.

15th May

Mars is now 9° high in the sky, and visible at for a few minutes shortly before sunrise.

25th May

At 4:30am Mars can be seen 7° high at magnitude +1.1.

Mars is still a challenge to view during the first week of May, however visibility improves as we move further towards the end of the month.  It can be found in the eastern sky shining all month at magnitude +1.1. 

Mars has a close approach with the waning crescent moon on May 4th-5th, with an occultation occurring over Antarctica.  Mars is also at perihelion on May 8th, its closest position to the sun at 128.4 million miles.

Mars’ disk finally reaches 5″ in diameter in the final days of the month, making it easier to spot in the early morning sky.

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Jupiter

05th May

Jupiter is at 5° at sunset, and sinks into the horizon as the sky darkens.

15th May

Jupiter is on the horizon at 8:30pm and setting with the sun.

25th May

Jupiter is not visible as it rises alongside the morning sun.

Jupiter is now lost in twilight’s glow early in the month and too close to the sun to be seen thereafter, as it rises and sets with the sun.  We’ll catch our next glimpse of it as we move into the summer months.

Jupiter is in conjunction with the sun on May 18th, which means it will be on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth.

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Saturn

05th May

In the early morning eastern sky we can spot Saturn at 11° high.

15th May

Saturn is climbing higher in the sky and can now be found at 18° and 100% illumination.

25th May

Saturn can be seen at magnitude +1.2 in the early morning sky.

Saturn begins to return to our early morning skies, seen low in the sky for the first half of the month, and then gaining altitude.  On May 3rd, Saturn can be found only 0.8° north of the moon in the constellation Aquarius. 

Saturn shines bright all month at magnitude +1.2 and  We end the month with another close pass with Saturn only 0.4° north of the moon.

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Uranus & Neptune

15th May – Uranus

Uranus is on the horizon as the morning sun rises.

15th May – Neptune

Neptune can be seen 14° high in the early morning sky.

Uranus is no longer viewable this month, as it is below the horizon and only rises alongside of the sun.  Neptune gradually moves higher in the sky throughout the month, providing for some great early morning views.  It can be found just 0.3° north of the moon on May 4th.  On May 31st, Neptune passes just 0.02° north of the waning crescent moon.

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All Planets Viewer

Use the table below to see when each of the planets is observable for each day this month. Click on it for full screen.

A planet is classed as observable when it is more than 10° above the horizon and the sky is dark enough for it to be observed.

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Planet ephemeris tables produced with the kind permission of Dominic Ford. Sky images are courtesy of SkySafari Pro 6.

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