Society News and Night Sky Notes – May 2001

Society News Headlines

  • May 1st: Comet 148P/Anderson-LINEAR at perihelion (1.694AU).
  • May 2nd: Comet 024P/Schaumasse at perihelion (1.205 AU).
  • May 4th: Venus at greatest brilliancy.
  • May 5th: Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower max
  • May 5th: 40th Anniversary (1961) of launch of Alan Shepard aboard Freedom 7 spacecraft. First USA man in Space.
  • May 7th: Mercury is 4° North of Saturn.
  • May 8th: Comet 61P/Shajn-Schaldach at Perihelion (2.330AU).
  • May 10th: Mars 1.9° South of moon.
  • May 11th: Neptune is stationary.
  • May 11th: Mars is stationary.
  • May 11th: 85th Anniversary (1916) of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity publication.
  • May 12th: Mercury 8° North of Aldebaran.
  • May 14th: Neptune 3° North of Moon.
  • May 15th: Uranus 3° North of Moon.
  • May 16th: Mercury 3° North of Jupiter.
  • May 18th: Ceres is stationary.
  • May 18th: AGM of Liverpool Astronomical Society at the Crypt Concert Room, 7pm – 9:30pm – followed by Members Observational reports.
  • May 19th: AGM of Web Society.
  • May 19th: Venus 4° North of Moon.
  • May 20th: Vesta is 0.6° South of Moon.
  • May 22nd: Mercury is at greatest elongation 22° East.
  • May 24th: Minor Planet 1999 KW4 Flyby of Earth at 0.032AU.
  • May 24th: Jupiter is 1.3° North of Moon.
  • May 24th: Comet C/LINEAR (2001 A2) at Perihelion (0.779AU).
  • May 24th: Mercury is 3°: North of Moon.
  • May 25th: 40th Anniversary (1961) of John F.Kennedy’s Moon goal speech. Lunar landing took place just 8 years later.
  • May 25th: Saturn in conjunction with the Sun.
  • May 27th: Pallas at oppostion.
  • May 29th: Uranus is stationary.
  • May 30th: BAA Ordinary Meeting in London.


Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service. To make your own star chart fo your location at any time, Click Here.

The Sun and Moon

All times are in BRITISH SUMMER TIME (BST) For Observer in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, U.K.

Latitude 53 degs 24 mins North.
Longitude +3.0 degs West.

           May 1st       6th       11th      16th      21st      26th        30th
SUNRISE    05:38        05:28      05:19     05:11     05:03     04:37       04:51
SUNSET     20:41        20:50      20:59     21:07     21:15     21:22       21:28
on 23rd
at 03h:47m
on 29th
at 23h:10m
on 6th
at 14h:54m
on 15th
at 11h:12m



Mercury becomes a favourable object again. Looking to the North of West some 40 minutes after Sunset this elusive planet will be at its best between the 11th and the 26th. With the crescent Moon paying a visit toward the end of that period you should stand a good chance of locating the solar systems innermost world.This table (link removed as URL is invalid) describes the apparition as it progresses. Jupiter and Saturn, in their hasty journey towards the Sun, offer further pointers although it has to be said that Saturn is pretty unfavourable. Mercury is brighter during the first half of May.


Venus does a little double take, stopping its motion along the horizon and increasing its altitude slightly. It is quite low down in the morning twilight but it will soon improve.


Mars, rising at midnight at the end of May, is visible for most of the night in southern Ophiuchus. In January its apparent diameter was a mere 5.2″ of arc but it now sports a healthy 14-19″ disk as it heads towards next months opposition. On the 10th the Moon passes 1.5° north of Mars at 01hrs


  • 1 Ceres is in Sagittarius at Mag 8.5 ( Opposition next month).
  • 2 Pallas is at opposition on May 27th at mag 9.2 in Hercules.
  • 7 Iris is at opposition on May 9th at mag 9.6 in Libra.
  • 15 Eunomia is at opposition on May 23rd at mag 9.9 in Lupus.

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter quickly heads towards the Sun in the evening sky and becomes unfavourable.

Launched in October 1989, the Galileo Jupiter Probe entered orbit around the great planet on December 7th 1995. The Project Galileo Homepage will give you up-to-date information and the very latest images returned.


Saturn is at solar conjunction on the 25th, thus is unfavourable for observations. It reappears in the morning sky in July.


Uranus is starting to become favourable among the stars of Capricornus. It shines at Mag 5.8.

Positions for the 1st May:
                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      21h:48m:12s           -14°:01':08"                   07h:23m             5.8

Bluish Neptune is also in Capricornus at this time,less brigher than Uranus. Both should be seen in dark sky location with clear skies.

 Positions for the 1st May:
                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      20h:44m:35s           -17°:55':17"                   06h:20m           7.9


Best time to look for the almost 14 mag planet is around New Moon. The dates below will be a guide for planning observations.

Positions for May are when pluto's elongation angle is greater than 90°.

DATE                      R.A.                   DEC                   TRANSIT TIME
May  11th              16h:57m:53s            -11°:52':23"                 01h:52m
May  21st              16h:56m:53s            -11°:50':28"                 01h:12m
May  31st              16h:55m:50s            -11°:49':04"                 00h:31m

On June 3rd Pluto at 13.8 Mag reaches opposition in Ophiuchus. It can be found between Zeta Ophiuchi Mag 4 and 20 Ophiuchi mag 4.7. You will need an 8-inch or larger telescope and the best time to see Pluto is when the Moon is not around.
It is best seen between May 15th – May 29th.


  • May 6th Eta Aquarids (40 per hour) Favourable.
  • May 13th ALPHA SCORPIIDS (20 per hour) Fairly Favourable.


  • Comet Shajn-Schaldach at Perihelion on May 8th at (2.330AU).
  • Comet C/Linear (2001 A2) at Perihelion on May 24th at (0.779 AU).

Plus these pages will give daily and weekly reports of this and other Comets progress.


  • May 9th at 04h:41m Reappearance of psi Ophiuchi