Home > Ephemeris Program, Mars, Mercury, Month preview > 04/29/2016 – Ephemeris – Let’s preview the merry skies of May

04/29/2016 – Ephemeris – Let’s preview the merry skies of May

April 29, 2016

Ephemeris for Arbor Day, Friday, April 29th.  The Sun rises at 6:34.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 10 minutes, setting at 8:45.   The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 3:01 tomorrow morning.

Sunday starts the month when the promise of spring is finally fulfilled.  Daylight hours in the Interlochen/Traverse City area will increase from 14 hours and 16 minutes Sunday to 15 hours 20 minutes on the 31st.  The altitude, or angle, of the Sun above the southern horizon at local noon will ascend from 60 degrees Sunday to 67 degrees at month’s end.  The altitude of the sun in the Straits area will be a degree lower than that but your daylight will be a few minutes longer.   The big event of May will be the transit of the tiny planet Mercury across the face of the Sun on May 9th.  I’ll have more on that next week.  Also Mars will be in opposition from the Sun on the 22nd which due to its elliptical orbit will actually be closest to us 8 days later on the 30th at 46.779 million miles (75.284 million km).

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


May Star Chart

May 2016 Star Chart

Star Chart for May 2016. Created using my LookingUp program. To enlarge in Firefox Right-click on image then click View Image.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 11 p.m. EDT.  That is chart time.  Note, Traverse City is located approximately 45 minutes behind our time meridian.  (An hour 45 minutes behind our daylight saving time meridian.) To duplicate the star positions on a planisphere you may have to set it to 1:45 earlier than the current time.

Evening nautical twilight ends at 10:00 p.m. EDT on the 1st, increasing to 10:43 p.m. EDT on the 31st.

Morning nautical twilight starts at 5:20 a.m. EDT on the 1st, and decreasing to 4:38 a.m. EDT on the 31st.

Add a half hour to the chart time every week before the 15th and subtract a half hour for every week after the 15th.  Before the 13th also subtract an hour for Standard Time.

For a list of constellation names to go with the abbreviations click here.

  • Pointer stars at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper point to Polaris the North Star
  • A leaky Big Dipper drips on Leo
  • Follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to the star Arcturus
  • Extend the ac to a spike to point to Spica

Calendar of Planetary Events

Credit:  Sky Events Calendar by Fred Espenak and Sumit Dutta (NASA’s GSFC)

To generate your own calendar go to http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SKYCAL/SKYCAL.html

Times are Eastern Time.  Some additions made to aid clarity.

    Date   Time      Event
May 01 Su            Venus: 9.8° W
    02 Mo  9:27 p.m. Moon Descending Node
    04 We  2:45 p.m. Eta Aquarid Shower: ZHR = 60
    06 Fr 12:14 a.m. Moon Perigee: 357800 km
    06 Fr  3:30 p.m. New Moon
    08 Su  4:21 a.m. Moon-Aldebaran: 0.5° S
    09 Mo  7:12 a.m. Mercury transit begins
    09 Mo 10:57 a.m. Mercury mid-transit
    09 Mo  2:42 p.m. Mercury transit ends
    09 Mo  5:54 p.m. Moon North Dec.: 18.4° N
    13 Fr  1:02 p.m. First Quarter
    14 Sa  3:06 a.m. Moon-Regulus: 2.5° N
    15 Su  5:30 a.m. Moon-Jupiter: 2.2° N
    15 Su  4:39 p.m. Moon Ascending Node
    18 We  6:06 p.m. Moon Apogee: 405900 km
    21 Sa  5:15 p.m. Full Moon
    22 Su  7:15 a.m. Mars Opposition
    22 Su  5:59 a.m. Moon-Saturn: 3.5° S
    24 Tu  7:16 a.m. Moon South Dec.: 18.5° S
    29 Su  8:12 a.m. Last Quarter
    30 Mo 12:45 a.m. Moon Descending Node
    30 Mo  5:36 p.m. Mars closest to the Earth 0.50321 AU
Jun 01 We            Venus: 1.5° W

Transit of Mercury

May 9, 2016 7:12 a.m. (11:21 UT) to 2:42 p.m. (18:42 UT)

rack of the Transit of Mercury

The track of Mercury across the face of the Sun. Mercury will travel from upper left to lower right. Mercury will not be visible until it impinges upon the disk of the Sun. Credit IOTA’s program Occult4.

Transit Map

The map showing where the transit is visible in whole or in part. If using Firefox enlarge the map by right clicking on it and select View Image.


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