The Sky Above You – May 2021

By Duncan Lunan

The Moon will be New on May 11th, and it will be Full on May 26h.  This will be a ‘supermoon’, when the Moon is Full at its nearest to Earth, and will be the brightest Full Moon of 2021, except for a total lunar eclipse visible from the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. 

The wait continues for results from the Chang’e 5 spacecraft, with which China returned samples from the Moon in December last.  Meanwhile Russia has annonced its intention to return to the Moon later this year with a sampling mission designated Luna 25, picking up the numbering where it was left off with their last sample return in 1976.

The planet Mercury is at its best for the year in May, higher than Venus in the evening sky for most of the month.  Mercury will be close to the Pleiades in Taurus on May 3rd and 4th, with Venus below, and it will remain higher than Venus till the 28th, though it loses altitude from the 12th onwards.   Mercury is passed by the Moon on the 13th, and is at its greatest separation from the Sun on the 17th, and it passes Venus on the left on the 28th, disappearing by the end of the month.

Venus sets at 9.15 p.m. (BST)  in early May, and at 10.30 p.m. by the end of the month, passing the Pleiades on the 9th, and passed by the Moon at upper left on the 13th, with Mercury to the Moon’s right, 

Mars moves through Gemini and is near Castor and Pollux in late May, setting meanwhile around 0.45 a.m..   The Moon is between Mars and Mercury on the 14th and still nearer to Mars on the 15th.  

Jupiter in Aquarius rises at 2.30 a.m., with the waning Moon nearby on the 4th and Saturn to upper right of them.

Saturn in Capricornus rises at 2.30 a.m., and is passed by the Moon on the 3rd and the 31st.

Uranus inAriesis not visible, after conjunction on the far side of the Sun on April 30th.

Neptune rises in Aquarius around 3.00 a.m., passed by the Moon on May 6th.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, one of the two per year from Halley’s Comet, peaks on the morning of May 6th. .

My space travel stories, old and new, have been collected and published by Other Side Books as From the Moon to the Stars, relating to the Moon and Project Apollo, and The Other Side of the Interface, with a wider scope.   Both have illustrations by Sydney Jordan, and are available through Amazon or through bookshops.  Details of them and my other books are on my website,

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