Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 12 hours). Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.1

THE SUN and PLANETS in May 2020, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
          May 1     NZST               May 31    NZST  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Ari   7.05am  5.29pm  -26.7  Tau   7.33am  5.03pm
Merc  -1.8  Ari   6.40am  5.20pm    0.1  Gem   9.30am  6.26pm
Venus -4.7  Tau  10.37am  7.10pm   -4.2  Tau   8.10am  5.16pm
Mars   0.4  Cap  12.18am  2.22pm   -0.0  Aqr  12.03am  1.18pm
Jup   -2.4  Sgr  10.13pm 12.59pm   -2.6  Sgr   8.14pm 11.01am
Sat    0.6  Cap  10.38pm  1.15pm    0.4  Cap   8.39pm 11.17am
Uran   5.9  Ari   6.45am  5.18pm    5.9  Ari   4.52am  3.21pm
Nep    7.9  Aqr   2.44am  3.26pm    7.9  Aqr  12.49am  1.30pm
Pluto 14.5  Sgr  10.00pm 12.56pm   14.5  Sgr   8.01pm 10.58am

              May 1  NZST                May 31  NZST
Twilights    morning     evening        morning     evening
Civil:    start 6.39am, end  5.56pm   start 7.05am, end  5.31pm
Nautical: start 6.07am, end  6.29pm   start 6.31am, end  6.06pm
Astro:    start 5.34am, end  7.01pm   start 5.58am, end  6.39pm

   May PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZ & UT
  First quarter: May  1 at  8.38am (Apr 30, 20:38 UT)
  Full Moon:     May  7 at 10.45pm (10:45 UT)
  Last quarter:  May 15 at  2.03am (May 14, 14:03 UT)
  New Moon:      May 23 at  5.39am (May 22, 17:39 UT)
  First quarter: May 30 at  3.30pm (03:30 UT)


MERCURY is at superior conjunction with the Sun on May 4. Following conjunction, it becomes an evening planet. By the end of May the planet sets some 80 minutes after the Sun. A little before 6pm, towards the end of May, it may be visible very low to the north-west.

VENUS, as an evening object, sets about 100 minutes after the Sun at the beginning of May. It will then be visible as a brilliant object rather low to the north-west soon after sunset. The elongation of Venus steadily decreases during May, especially after it is stationary on the 13th. By the 31st it will be only 5° from the Sun so unobservable.

Venus and Mercury are less than a degree apart on May 22. They will be very difficult to see, requiring a clear low horizon. Half an hour after sunset Venus will be only 2° up with Mercury to its upper left.

JUPITER and SATURN are about 5° apart throughout May. Saturn is stationary on the 11th, Jupiter on the 15th (NZ time). Hence both will be slow moving all month. The moon joins the two planets on the night of 12/13 May. It is about 3° from each planet about 1am.

PLUTO is 2° from Jupiter on the opposite side to Saturn.

MARS rises shortly after midnight. It moves to the east away from Jupiter and Saturn during May, crossing from Capricornus to Aquarius on the 8th. On May 16 the moon, near last quarter, will be 5° to the left of Mars an hour before sunrise.

URANUS moves up into the morning sky during May. It is too close to the Sun for observation early in the month, but by the end of May it will rise more than two and a half hours before the Sun. NEPTUNE, also a morning object, rises 4 hours before Uranus.


                   May 1 NZST          May 31 NZST  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
(1)  Ceres      9.2   Aqr  .8.09am    9.0   Aqr  6.44am
(4)  Vesta      8.5   Tau   2.43pm    8.4   Ori  1.39pm

CERES is a morning object. It rises at 1am NZST on the 1st and 11.37pm on the 31st.

VESTA is an evening object getting low by the end of May. It sets at 7.30 pm NZST on the 1st and 6.18 pm on the 31st. Vesta is about 5° from Venus mid May and moves from Taurus to Orion on the 29th.

Brian Loader

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