Society News and Night Sky Notes – May 2002

Society News Headlines

  • May ***: Noctilucent Cloud Season begins late May until August.
  • May 4th: Mars 2° north of the Moon.
  • May 4th: Mercury greatest elongation East at 21° (evening sky).
  • May 5th: Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower max
  • May 5th: Uranus 4° north of the Moon.
  • May 7th: Venus 2° north of Saturn.
  • May 10th: Venus 0.3°north of Mars.
  • May 13th: Mercury is 3° north of the Moon.
  • May 14th: Saturn is 1.1° south of Moon.
  • May 14th: Venus is 0.8° north of Moon.
  • May 14th: Mars is 0.6° north of Moon.
  • May 15th: Asteroid Vesta is 1.1° south of the Moon.
  • May 15th: Comet Pons-Winnecke at Perihelion (1.258AU).
  • May 15th: Comet C/2001 T4 (NEAT) at perihelion (8.568AU).
  • May 17th: AGM of Liverpool Astronomical Society at the Crypt Concert Room, 7pm – 9:30pm – followed by Members Observational reports.
  • May 18th: Webb Society AGM at the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory Nr Oxford.
  • May 24th: 40th Anniversary (1962) of Aurora 7 launch (Scott Carpenter).
  • May 26th: Prenumbral lunar eclipse -(not seen from Liverpool).
  • May 27th: Mercury at Inferior conjunction.
  • May 29th: BAA Ordinary Meeting: speaker Dr Xiolueu-Liu on Planetary Nebulae.
  • May 31st: Launch of STS-111 space shuttle Endeavour on mission UF-2 to ISS.
  • May 31st: Neptune 4° north of Moon.


Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service.

The Night Sky as seen from Liverpool at any time, Click Here.

The Sun and Moon

All times are in BRITISH SUMMER TIME (BST). Times 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    05:39        05:29      05:19     05:11     05:04     04:57       04:52
SUNSET     20:41        20:50      20:58     21:07     21:15     21:22       21:28

on 12th
at 1h:46m
on 19th
at 20h:43m
on 26th
at 12h:52m
on 4th
at 08h:17m



Mercury finishes off its excellent evening apparition which began last month. See April’s sky page. On the 4th it reaches its greatest elongation east and will be visible for about 2 hours after Sunset.On the 12th Mercury is 5° north of Epsilon Tauri whilst on the 14th is 3.5° north of the Moon.


Sky chart: Planetary alignment, dusk, May 5th, 2002

Sky chart: Planetary alignment, dusk, May 5th, 2002

Sky chart: Planetary alignment, dusk, May 13th - 15th, 2002

Sky chart: Planetary alignment, dusk, May 13th – 15th, 2002

Sky chart: Planetary alignment, dusk, May 31st, 2002

Sky chart: Planetary alignment, dusk, May 31st, 2002

Venus reaches its peak throughout May and is visible high up in the west-north-west. As soon as the Sun has set you can try searching for this extremely bright planet especially on the 7th when Venus and Saturn lie 2.5° apart with Saturn approaching from above left from the start of the month. On the 10th at 22:00 Venus and Mars are a mere 18′ apart and with Jupiter also approaching the area the scene is set for a nice quadruple arrangement of planets. The 14th and 15th see the Moon putting some distance between it and the horizon then it too gatecrashes the party. As the month advances Venus passes from Taurus into Gemini lying close to some naked-eye stars in both constellations.


Mars in its inevitable path towards the Sun is starting to set earlier and earlier, its fast apparent motion not enough to keep up with the faster Earth. By the end of May sets at 23:17. As mentioned above its close association with Venus on the 10th is a highlight worth looking out for whilst earlier, on the 4th, Mars and Saturn are 2° apart at 15hrs.


  • 1 Ceres can be found on the Aqr/Cet border at mag 9.3

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter moves further away from the Moon at each month’s conjunction. In May the two bodies lie 1.5° apart at 12:00 on the 16th. Look back at January and February when they were so close that Jupiter was actually occulted and look ahead to November and December when will be nearly 4° apart at their closest point.

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 starting to get entangled in the evening twilight but there is still time for a high magnification view through a telescope whilst binoculars will show the apparent relationship between Saturn,Jupiter, Venus and Mars as detailed above.


Sky chart: Path of Uranus in 2002

Sky chart: Path of Uranus in 2002

Uranus is starting to become favourable among the stars of Aquarius It shines at Mag 5.9

 Positions for the 1st May:

                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      22h:03m:16s           -12°:42':30"                   07h:39m             5.9
Sky chart: Path of Neptune in 2002

Sky chart: Path of Neptune in 2002

Bluish Neptune is in Capricornus at this time, less brighter 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:53m:31s           -17°:24':05"                   06h:29m           7.9


Sky chart: Path of Pluto in 2002

Sky chart: Path of Pluto in 2002

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   1st              17h:08m:07s            -12°:44':04"                 02h:43m
May  11th              17h:07m:16s            -12°:42':01"                 02h:02m
May  21st              17h:06m:17s            -12°:40':19"                 01h:22m
May  31st              17h:05m:14s            -12°:39':05"                 00h:42m

On June 7th Pluto at 13.8 Mag reaches opposition in Ophiuchus. It can be found above and to the right of the 4th magnitude star eta Ophiuchi and below and to the left of zeta Ophiuchi.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 4th – May 19th.



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


  • May 25th at 01h:31m Disappearance of mu Librae