Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Posts tagged “celestial grouping may 2011

A Parade of Four Planets and the Old Moon

Throughout the month of May, a beautiful display of planets could be observed in the morning sky just before sunrise. Last May 2 – a day before the New Moon- the 1% thin waning crescent Moon joined the four naked eye planets in a very spectacular morning sky show.

This planetary display was quite difficult to observe in a residential place like ours because we were surrounded with several houses which blocks my view of the sky near the horizon. Moreover, as this event occurred near sunrise the view of the planets and the very thin Moon were easily spoiled by the glare of the rising Sun.

Hence, I never expected so much in my attempt  to observe this celestial grouping.

Fortunately, a friend and orgmate told me that she was able to witness the event and take nice images of it from the roof deck  of their house in Marikina City. She was lucky to have a clear view of the eastern sky from that vantage point. 🙂

I almost cried with joy when I saw her pictures!

Planet Trails (From L to R : Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus) Taken at 5:26 AM

The Old Moon, planets and the city lights during dawn 🙂 Image taken at 5:29 AM. Click on the image for hi-res version.

Bye bye Mars. Image taken at 5:36 AM.

Do you now understand why? 🙂

All images were taken by Bea Banzuela and were reposted with her permission.

Camera used was Panasonic Lumix DMC 10.1 mp digital camera (This camera possesses a remarkable capability of taking wide-angle shots just like the ones above!)

Happy observing! 🙂

Skywatching Highlights: May 2011


The month of May will show up the finest planetary conjunctions of the year. Naked-eye planets line-up in the eastern horizon before sunrise. On May 1, 9, 13, and 30 at 5:00 AM, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Neptune will be found lining-up above the eastern horizon as shown in Figures 2, 3, 4, and 5  respectively. Uranus and Neptune will be needing a star map and a binocular or a modest-sized telescope for its proper viewing. The planets will lie among the background stars of the constellation Pisces, the Fish, except for Neptune, which will be found at the constellation of Aquarius, the Water-Bearer.

Saturn will be visible in the evening sky throughout the month. The Ringed planet will be located among the background stars of the constellation Virgo, the Virgin.

Date Event Time (PHT)
1 Mars Jupiter at minimum separation dawn
1-2 Mars-Jupiter-Mercury-Venus-Moon conjunction dawn
2 Jupiter 6° south of the Moon 03:00 AM
3 New Moon 04:50 PM
5 The 3% thin crescent Moon will lie in between the star groups Hyades and Pleiades in the constellation Taurus in the west. dusk
7 Jupiter Conjunction  
7 Mercury at greatest western elongation dawn
7 Eta Aquarids : Active from Apr 19 to May 28 —  ZHR 70  
8 Venus Mercury at minimum separation dawn
10-14 Mercury-Venus-Jupiter conjunction dawn
11 First Quarter Moon 04:35 AM
11 Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter Conjunction – The three planets will form a 2-degree long vertical line in the early morning sky. The planet Mars will also be visible nearby. Look to the east near sunrise. dawn
11 Mercury Jupiter at minimum separation dawn
12 Venus Jupiter at minimum separation dawn
14 Saturn 8° north of the Moon 11:00 PM
17 Full Moon (called Full Flower Moon) 07:10 PM
18-26 Mercury Venus Mars conjunction dawn
18 Mercury Venus at minimum separation dawn
22 Jupiter 8° below the Moon dawn
25 Last Quarter Moon 02:50PM
30 Mars-Jupiter-Mercury-Venus-Moon conjunction dawn
31 Mars 4° South of the Moon dawn

Clear skies! 🙂



  • PAGASA Astronomical Diary
  • Philippine Celestial Events for 2011 by PAS
  • 2011 Astronomy Calendar – SeaSky.org

Luna and the Planets in the Dawn Sky

I stayed up until dawn today (May 1, 2011) to watch the beautiful celestial grouping of the thin crescent Moon (5% illuminated) and the morning planets (Venus, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter). Luckily, the eastern sky was not cloudy when I went outside at 4:40 AM. But only the Moon which looked like a yellow crescent and Venus were only visible. The other planets were too dim and too low to be seen over our suburban place.

I saw these two objects rising behind the roof of our neighbors house. At 5:00 AM, the Moon and Venus were roughly 15 degrees above the horizon and were separated apart by 6 degrees.

All pictures were taken using my Kodak C813 Digital Camera.

Clear skies! 🙂

Celestial Grouping on May 2011

Here is another rare planetary grouping that is hard to miss! 🙂

As soon as I came across this website shared by Daniel Fischer and read about the proximity of Venus and Jupiter to each other  on May 2011, I immediately ran my Stellarium software and simulated planetary positions throughout that month.

I got excited when I saw the nice planetary grouping of Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Mercury (you can add Uranus and Neptune to your count if you have binoculars or a small telescope) with the thin waning crescent Moon during the predawn hours of May 1 and 2.

Uranus could be found a few degrees above Venus but is too faint to see. Image: Stellarium screenshot

All of these celestial objects will lie just within the constellation Pisces, separated by only a few degrees from each other. 😀 This is a good opportunity to spot all these planets close together during one occasion.

In order to observe this, you must have a clear eastern horizon because they will appear very low in the sky. Also, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars to help you see these objects better and wake up early to avoid the glare of the sun.

Venus is, as always, the brightest and most visible of the planets, and it can be your guide to spotting the others. About half way between Venus and the rising sun is Jupiter, the second brightest planet.

Mars will be a tiny speck just above Jupiter, and Mercury another tiny speck about half way between Jupiter and Venus. Uranus is slightly more than one binocular field above and to the right of Venus, and Neptune is much farther to the right, about 40 degrees away in Aquarius.

The planetary grouping is visible from April 23 to May 30.

Checkout the eastern sky during the next mornings. Note: The time is in PST (UT+8)

Astrologers have always been fascinated by planetary alignments, and the doomsayers of 2012 have been prophesying a mystical alignment on Dec. 21, 2012. They view planetary alignments as foretellers of disasters. Modern amateur astronomers look forward to them as nothing more than grand photo ops. In fact, the modern tools of astronomers, such as planetarium softwares, show otherwise: absolutely no alignment at any time in 2012.

Happy observing 😀