Sunday 19th of May 2013
This page keeps track of the planets daily, telling you where they are in the sky if visible, with rising/setting times, and highest points. Also information about how long you’ll be able to see them in the night sky, with detailed descriptions of each. Apart from Uranus and Neptune, it’s possible to see all with your unaided eyes.
Times are GMT, 1 hour is added for BST between March 25th and October 28th
A quick glance
Jupiter (Dusk, appearing in north-west)
Saturn (Mid evening to pre dawn, appearing from south east)
Venus (After sunset north-west)
Neptune (Early hours till sunrise, from east)
Waxing gibbous 63% full, rising in the east at 2.12 pm, and setting in the west at 2.30 am
Next NEW Moon, Saturday 8th June
Next FULL Moon, Saturday 25th of May
The gas giant planet Jupiter, is still visible but now low in the western sky at dusk. Jupiter is the solar system’s largest planet showing its four moons and even its cloud belts in good binoculars on a tripod. The gas giant could hold more than 11 Earths across its diameter, it has 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets combined, and the whole thing spins around on its axis in 10 hours making it the fastest rotating planet in the solar system.
Tonight Jupiter appears low in the west/north-west at dusk in constellation Taurus. The gas giant then starts moving lower in the sky where it eventually sets at 10.32 pm. The planet has a magnitude of -1.49 and an angular size of 33.0 “arc seconds. Like other planets Jupiter has a still light, without the twinkling of a star. Even in binoculars (10×40 or 10×50′s), you should be able to spot Jupiter’s four moons as pinpoints of light spread out in a line around the planet’s disk.
Coordinates fro Jupiter RA 5h, 21m / DEC 22, 51′
When will Jupiter next be at opposition?
How long will Jupiter be visible? You still have a short time to see the solar system’s heavyweight planet. It is still visible in the sky right now, but it’s getting lower. Jupiter will go out of sight in late May where it disappears in the Sun’s glare at dusk low in the north-west. Talking of late May, Jupiter joins Mercury and Venus in a planetary gathering at dusk >>> Go here for more
Saturn appears in mid evening in the constellation Virgo, rising from the east, and is on view until daybreak. When seen with your naked eye Saturn looks like a yellowish “star”. Look through a telescope and you’ll see Saturn’s rings, with some atmospheric detail on the planet. The rings are at a nice angle for viewing. Through a telescope not only the planet will be visible, but some of its moons too. Saturn could get 755 Earths into its volume, and has a storm at its north pole in the shape of a Hexagon with 6 straight sides, each 13,800 kilometres long. The mysterious “Earth like” world Titan is the largest and brightest of Saturn’s moons, with hills, valleys, rivers, lakes, wind, and rain.
Tonight Saturn appears in the south east at night fall in constellation Virgo, it moves into the south by late evening, and disappears low in the south-west as morning breaks. Saturn has a magnitude of 0.44 and an angular size of 44.0″ arc seconds.
Coordinates for Saturn RA 14h, 21m / DEC -11, 15′
When will Saturn next be at opposition?
How long will Saturn be visible? You have lots of time to admire Saturn, as it the ringed giant will be on show until the end of September 2013, where it gets lost in the glare of the setting Sun.
Venus has emerged from the other side of the Sun in its orbit to grace our evening skies again and is moving towards Jupiter in the western sky at dusk. You will see Venus at first low in the north-west right after sunset. The lighter nights at first will mean Venus won’t be as prominent as in the dark skies of winter, but will be nicely visible in the afterglow of sunset. Be sure to look out from the 20th of May and up to the end of May, and you’ll see Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter in a nice close grouping low in the north-west. Venus’s farthest elongation from the Sun will come on the 29th of October 2013, visible in the south-west after dusk.
Venus, Earth’s “Evil Twin” is the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. This is because of the planets thick, dense atmosphere…its sulphuric acid clouds reflecting sunlight almost like a mirror. This world is roughly the same size and mass as Earth but the planet has undergone a runaway greenhouse effect, making the surface hot enough to melt lead. It orbits backwards so the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east, but it rotates so slowly that the Venusian day is longer than the Venusian year. With searing heat, and atmospheric pressure equivalent to being nearly a mile under the sea, this place would be a vision of hell.
Coordinates for Venus RA 4h, 33m / DEC 22, 16′
Tonight Venus sets in the north-west at 10.17 pm with a magnitude of -3.36, and an angular size of 10.0″ arc seconds.
How long will Venus be visible? You can now take your time to admire Venus as it will stay with us for a long period of time, not going out of sight until the beginning of January 2014 when it moves into the glare of the setting Sun low in the south-west.
Mercury (out of sight)
Mercury has gone back into the glare of the rising Sun in the east as day breaks, making it very difficult for you to observe. The solar system’s first planet will soon be on its way around the far side of the Sun in its orbit, to soon emerge again as an evening planet. Mercury’s latest visit in the mornings has not been at its best due to the lighter mornings of spring, compared to the winter past. Also the low incline of its orbit has kept it close to the horizon.
When will Mercury be back? Mercury will return again around the 20th of May visible in the north west at dusk. Although the lighter evenings will present you a challenge for this most elusive of planets, but the steeper incline of its orbit will put it higher in the sky at farthest elongation than last time which comes on the 10th of June. On the 20th of May Mercury sets in the north-west at 10.15 pm, in the same area of sky as Venus and Jupiter. Be sure to look low to the north-west at dusk on and around the 29th of May, when Mercury joins Venus and Jupiter to make a trio of planets after sunset.
Mars (out of sight)
Mars has now emerged from the other side of the Sun and is on its way to soon becoming a morning planet. When last on view the red planet was hugging the south-west/western horizon at dusk for some time, up until late summer 2012.
When will Mars be back? Mars won’t be gone for very long, as you’ll be able to observe it again from around the 20th of June 2013. It will emerge from behind the Sun as a morning planet, rising in the north-east before dawn. On the 21st of June it rises at 3.45 am (GMT+1), and continues to rise earlier each morning. Check out Mars on the morning of the 22nd of July 2013 when the red world is in conjunction with Jupiter at less than half a degree apart, rising just after 3 am.
The Ice Giants
Uranus and Neptune are more of a challenge to observe than the inner planets like Mars and Venus, so you will usually need a larger telescope, you will not see them naked eye. They will appear as small disks, even in a large amateur scope.
Uranus (out of sight)
Uranus has moved into the glare of the setting Sun in the west at dusk, passing far behind it in its orbit. The solar system’s coldest world lies out at roughly 3 billion kilometeres from the Sun, with an axis of rotation is on its side compared to other planets.
When will Uranus be back? The planet Uranus though will be soon be back, rising as a morning planet from the east in the early hours from the end of May 2013. Of course being an ice giant it is not a planet that can be seen at all easily with your unaided eye like Venus and Jupiter. Uranus will be back on view for observing at the end of May, rising from the east at roughly 3.00 am.
Neptune is back on view, rising from the east in the early hours. It is the furthest planet out from the Sun, but not the coldest. Uranus is actually colder even though it’s the second furthest from the Sun, as its internal heat source seems to have shut down. Neptune’s vivid blue colour is due to methane in its atmosphere. This ice giant is a long way out, and even in large telescopes it will appear small and star like.
Tonight Neptune is in constellation Aquarius, rising from the east at 2.47 am, with a magnitude of 7.73, and an angular diameter of 2.0 arc seconds.
Coordinates for Neptune RA 22h, 29m / DEC -10, 10′
When will Neptune next be at opposition?
How long will Neptune be visible? Neptune rises in the early hours, and will gradually rising earlier and earlier each day. It will be appearing at around midnight by the end of June, and 9.30 pm by the beginning of August. It will go out of sight again at the start of February 2014.
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