Every Monday I pick the celestial highlights of the northern hemisphere (northern mid-latitudes) for the week ahead, but make sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.
To watch out for in the night sky this week: May 24-30, 2021
This is surely the most gripping spectacle of 2021 for anyone in Australia, parts of the western US states, western South America, and Southeast Asia – an eclipse total lunar. The first in over two years, it won’t last long, but it should be dramatic. In the nights following this “Super Flower Blood Moon Eclipse”, it will also be possible to see the tiny Mercury shine next to the ultra-bright planet Venus, which returns to the night sky after sunset as ” Evening Star ”. ”
A fabulous week of moon watching and planet hunting has only just begun …
Wednesday May 26, 2021: a total lunar eclipse of the “Super Flower Blood Moon”
The first total lunar eclipse since January 2019 is happening tonight, but even if you’re on the way – effectively on the night side of Earth – don’t settle for a long event. Total lunar eclipses occur when the Moon drifts into the Earth’s central shadow in space, but it grazes only the interior. Spot about 15 minutes when the full moon turns a red-orange color – the lunar totality – making it the second shortest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
It is nonetheless sure to be a dramatic show low in the southwestern sky when it happens around 11:11 a.m. Universal Time – 4:11 a.m. PDT, so a show strictly for early risers – not least because it’s is also a “super moon”, or perigee the full moon, as astronomers call it.
It simply means that the previous evening, the complete “Flower Super Moon” will have been furthest from Earth in its monthly elliptical orbit. The result? It will appear slightly larger than usual on the horizon, so you’ll get a large moonrise in the east on Tuesday, followed, later that night, in the early hours of Wednesday, by the eclipse.
The west coast of the United States has a great view, with the view getting significantly worse the further east it is. In fact, most of the United States will only see a partial lunar eclipse.
See my feed for more information on this eclipse, including detailed viewing guides.
Friday May 28, 2021: Mercury and Venus in close conjunction
Mercury is generally a difficult planet to find because it rarely moves away from the glare of the sun, but recently it has been visible after sunset. Perhaps the most alluring sight of “Mercury May” comes after tonight’s twilight, when the tiny planet – having risen beyond Venus – dramatically descends towards it.
Look west after sunset and you will see the two planets just 0.5 ° apart and approaching. However, keep in mind that Venus will be brilliantly bright compared to Mercury, so this is a bit of a lag.
Sunday May 30, 2001: Moon and Saturn in close conjunction
Now, a few days later, tonight’s waning “Flower Super Moon” passes just 4º from the “ringed planet” Saturn in the hours leading up to sunrise.
The times and dates shown are for the northern mid-latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information, check out online planetariums like Stellarium and The sky live. Check planet rise / set of planets, Sunrise and moonrise / moonset time where you are.
Disclaimed: I am the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com
I wish you clear skies and wide eyes.