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Monday, May 25, 2020

 

Sky This Week - Thursday May 28 to Thursday June 4

The First Quarter Moon is Saturday May 30, this is a "blue" First Quarter Moon, the second in the Month. Venus is lost in the twilight as Mercury rises higher into the late twilight. Three bright planets are visible in the morning skies. Jupiter dominates the morning skies near Saturn and the pair are west of Mars which is almost due north. Jupiter and Saturn are now rising before midnight and visible in the late evening.

The First Quarter Moon is Saturday May 30, this is a "blue" First Quarter Moon, the second in the Month. The Moon is at Perigee, when it is closet to the Earth, on June 3.

Evening nautical twilight at 18:12 ACST on Saturday, May 30 (60 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Mercury is reasonably bright low above the horizon, but is better a bit earlier.




Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia 60 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen.


Evening sky at 23:00 ACST on Saturday, May 30 facing east as seen from Adelaide. Jupiter and Saturn are rising above the Eastern horizon.

Similar views will bee seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time, click to embiggen.

The inset shows the telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn at the same scale at 23:00 ACST.





Morning sky on Saturday, May 30 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 5:44 am ACST (90 minutes before sunrise).






Three bright planets are visible high above the northern horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise)  click to embiggen.



Venus is lost in the twilight this week, and will return to the morning skies mid June.

Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky in the twilight this week,. and is now visible up to 60 minutes after sunset.

Three bright planets grace the morning sky.

 Mars is visible high in the morning sky to the north, east of Jupiter and Saturn.
 
Jupiter is lowering in the morning sky and now can be seen in the late evening sky. Jupiter and Saturn stay around a hand-span apart during the week.

Saturn is also lowering in the morning sky near Jupiter drawing away from Mars. It too is now visible in the late evening skies.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.




Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

 

Sky This Week - Thursday May 21 to Thursday May 28

The New Moon is Saturday May 23. Venus is sinking lower in the evening twilight becoming harder to see as Mercury rises out of the twilight. On the 22nd Mercury and Venus are closest and on May 24 The thin crescent Moon, Mercury and Venus make an attractive, if difficult to see, triangle low in the twilight. Three bright planets are visible in the morning skies. Jupiter dominates the morning skies near Saturn and the pair are above Mars. Jupiter and Saturn are now rising before midnight and visible in the late evening.

The New Moon is Saturday May 23.

Evening twilight at 17:44 ACST on Friday, May 22 (30 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus is prominent low in the twilight and at its closest to Mercury (you may need binoculars to see Mercury). The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus and Mercury.



Venus is a distinct "crescent Moon" shape in even small telescopes. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia 30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen.


Evening twilight at 17:43 ACST on Sunday, May 24 (30 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus forms a triangle with the thin crescent Moon and  Mercury.You will need binoculars too see then at their best. The sight of the crescent Moon and crescent Venus together will be interesting.




Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia 30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen.


Evening sky at 23:00 ACST on Saturday, May 23 facing east as seen from Adelaide. Jupiter and Saturn are rising above the Eastern horizon.

Similar views will bee seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time, click to embiggen.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at 23:00 ACST.





Morning sky on Saturday, May 23 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 5:40 am ACST (90 minutes before sunrise).






Three bright planets are visible high above the northern horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise)  click to embiggen.



Venus is still prominent in the twilight low above the western horizon but is rapidly heading towards the horizon and will soon disappear. Venus is seen up to 60 minutes after sunset at the beginning of the week.Venus, the thin crescent Moon and Mercury form a triangle low in the twilight on Sunday the 24th. Binoculars may be needed to see them at their best.

Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky in the twilight this week, and is closest to Venus on the Friday the 22nd.

Three bright planets grace the morning sky.

 Mars is visible high in the morning sky below Jupiter and Saturn.
 
Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and now can be seen in the late evening sky. Jupiter and Saturn stay around a hand-span apart during the week.

Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky below Jupiter drawing away from Mars. It too is now visible in the late evening skies.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.




Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

 

Sky This Week - Thursday May 14 to Thursday May 21

The last Quarter is Friday May 15. Venus is sinking lower in the evening twilight becoming harder to see. Mercury rises out of the twilight to meet it. Three bright planets are visible in the morning skies. Jupiter dominates the morning skies near Saturn and the pair are above Mars. Jupiter and Saturn are now rising before midnight. The Moon is close to Mars on the 15th and 18th

The last Quarter is Friday May 15.The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 18th.

Evening twilight at 17:44 ACST on Thursday, May 21 (30 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus is prominent low in the twilight with Mercury rising to meet it. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus and Mercury.

Venus is a distinct "crescent Moon" shape in even small telescopes. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia 30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen.



Evening sky at 23:00 ACST on Saturday, May 16 facing east as seen from Adelaide. Jupiter and Saturn are rising above the Eastern horizon.

Similar views will bee seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time, click to embiggen.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at 23:00 ACST.





Morning sky on Friday, May 15 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:35 am ACST (90 minutes before sunrise).

The last Quarter Moon is close to Mars. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise)  click to embiggen.








Venus is still prominent in the twilight low above the western horizon but will soon disappear. Venus is seen up to 60 minutes after sunset.

Mercury returns to the evening sky in the twilight late this week, rising to meet Venus.

Three bright planets grace the morning sky.


 Mars is visible high in the morning sky below Jupiter and Saturn. On the 15th and 16 the waning Moon is close to Mars

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and now can be seen in the late evening sky. Jupiter and Saturn stay around a hand-span apart during the week.

Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky below Jupiter drawing away from Mars.It too is now visible inn the late evening skies.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.




Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Monday, May 04, 2020

 

Sky This Week - Thursday May 7 to Thursday May 14

The full Moon is Thursday May 7. Venus is prominent in the evening sky after twilight heading towards Beta Tauri (Elnath) and is closest on the 11th. Three bright planets are visible in the morning skies. Jupiter dominates the morning skies near Saturn and the pair are above Mars. Jupiter and Saturn are now rising before midnight, on the 12th The waning Moon from a triangle with the pair. Eta Aquariid Meteor shower (mornings May 7-8) and comet C/2020 SWAN visible.

The full Moon is Thursday May 7.

Evening sky at 18:21 ACST on Monday, May 11 (60 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus is prominent low in the sky and is at its closest to Beta Tauri (Elnath). The inset shows the telescope view of Venus.

Venus is a distinct "crescent Moon" shape in even small telescopes. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia 60 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen.



Evening sky at 23:00 ACST on Tuesday, May 12 facing east as seen from Adelaide.The trio of Jupiter, the waning Moon and Saturn are rising above the Eastern horizon.

Similar views will bee seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time, click to embiggen..

The inset show Jupiter at 23:30 ACST as Europa appears from Behind Jupiter.





Morning sky on Thursday, May 7 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACST showing the eta Aquariid meteor shower radiant as a star burst. Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN may be visible to the unaided eye below it.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time,  click to embiggen.

The eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the late evening/early morning of  6-7 May in Australia,
You should see a meteor every four minutes or so  under dark skies. Details and observing hints are here.

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN is brighter than expected and is (just) and unaided eye object.  Details and observing hints are here.


Venus is prominent low above the western horizon in the early evening sky. Venus is seen up to 90 minutes after sunset. Venus is  closing in on the bright star Elnath (Beta Tauri) and is closest on the 11th.

Three bright planets grace the morning sky.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

 Mars is visible high in the morning sky below Jupiter and Saturn. 

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and now can be seen in the late evening sky. Jupiter and Saturn stay around a hand-span apart during the week. On the 12th Jupiter the waning Moon and Satun form a triangle

Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky below Jupiter drawing away from Mars.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.




Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Sunday, May 03, 2020

 

Eta Aqaurid Meteor Shower 6-8 May, 2020

Morning sky on Wednesday, May 6 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am local time in South Australia showing the eta Aquariid meteor shower radiant as a star burst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Just a reminder that the eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the late evening/early morning of  5-7 May in Australia, although better rates will be seen on the mornings of the 6th, 7th, and 8th . 


The eta Aquarid meteor shower, which is produced by the debris from Halley’s Comet, will peak on May 5, 21h UT ,  which is sadly after sunrise on May 6 in the eastern states and deep in the twilight glow for the central states.  Despite this, and interference from the light of the waxing Moon,  we will have worthwhile rates on the mornings of May 6 and May 7, from 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM local time Australia-wide, where people with dark skies should see a meteor around every four to five  minutes. 

However, the peak is really broad and viewing from the 5-9 will give you decent rates (see table below). Based on the NASA meteor flux program (see below) and my own excel spreadsheet using the Jennisken's eta Aquarid stream parameters the best rates will be seen from Australia on the mornings of the 6th and 7th (see table below, but the 8th is very worth while too, but as you can see the rate difference between the nights is marginal).

This year conditions are reasonable for seeing the eta Aquarids, with little interference from the waxing Moon.  The waxing Moon sets before astronomical twilight on the 6th and just after nautical twilight on the 7th after the meteor shower rises. So try and find a position to watch the meteors where the Moon is blocked from view.

People in the suburbs should see a meteor around once every 6 minutes, and in the country about once every 3 minutes. The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4 am (see spotter chart at 4 am above).

Weather prediction looks good with clear mornings for most of Australia (except the bit where I live)

You may have read that this year the eta Aquariids have a predicted ZHR of 50 meteors. The figure ZHR is zenithal hourly rate. This is the number of meteors that a single observer would see per hour if the shower's "point of origin", or radiant, were at the zenith and the sky was dark enough for 6.5-magnitude stars to be visible to the naked eye.

In practise, you will never see this many meteors as the radiant will be some distance below the zenith. Also, unless you are out deep in the countryside, the darkness will be less than ideal. How many are you likely to see in reality? I discuss this further down, let's talk about when to see them first.

Although as I said above the actual peak is on 6-7th, for Australia the best time to see the eta-Aquarids is in the early morning of the 5th, 6th and 7th, with the best rates between around 4-5 am (see table below).

How many will be seen on the 6th - 7th  is not entirely clear (see predictions below for various towns, but they are only predictions), but good rates were seen in 2016, and dark sky sites may possibly see one meteor every 4-5 minutes or so. There were many bright ones reported with persistent trains in 2014. People in the suburbs may be will see less, but at least one every 6 minutes should be possible. 

Predicted meteor rates for selected towns (taken from NASA shower Flux estimator below)


TownMorning May 5 Morning May 6Morning May 7
Adelaide13 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr
Brisbane14 meteors/hr17 meteors/hr17 meteors/hr
Darwin15 meteors/hr17 meteors/hr17bmeteors/hr
Perth14 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr
Melbourne13 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr
Hobart12 meteors/hr14 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr
Sydney13 meteors/hr14 meteors/hr11 meteors/hr

The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4 am (see above for a spotter chart at 5 am). When looking, be sure to let your eyes adjust for at least 5 minutes so your eyes can be properly adapted to the dark.

Don't look directly at the radiant site, because the meteors will often start their "burn" some distance from it, but around a hand-span up or to the side. The best way to watch the Eta Aquariids is to let your eye rove around the entire patch of the sky above the north-east horizon, between the only two obvious bright stars in the north-east, Altair and Fomalhaut and bright Mars.

Be patient, although you should see an average of a meteor every 3 to 6 minutes, a whole stretch of time can go by without a meteor, then a whole bunch turn up one after the other.

Make yourself comfortable, choose an observing site that has little to obstruct the eastern horizon, have a comfortable chair to sit in (a banana lounger is best), or blankets and pillows. Rug up against the cold.  A hot Thermos of something to drink and plenty of mosquito protection will complete your observing preparations. As well as meteors, keep an eye out for satellites (see Heavens Above for predictions from your site).  The Milky way will arch above you, with Jupiter and Saturn to the north and Mars and comet C/2020 F8 Swan will grace the morning skies as twilight begins.

Use the NASA  meteor shower flux estimator for an estimate of what the shower will be like from your location (you may need to enter your longitude and latitude, surprisingly, while Adelaide and Brisbane are hard-wired in, Sydney and Melbourne are not). See the image to the left for typical output. The peak is rather sharp.

Unfortunately, both Chrome and Firefox have changed their security settings to prevent plugins from running, and the flux estimator only runs under Internet Explorer now.

You need to choose 31 Eta Aquariids and remember to set the date to  7-8 or 8-9 May 2019 and turn off daylight saving time. You can follow the progress of the shower at the IMO live Aquariid site.

Guides for taking meteor photos are here and here.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN Unaided Eye Bright

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN as seen looking east from Adelaide at 5:28 ACST (90 minutes before sunrise) on Monday the 4th of May. Beta Ceti (Deneb Kaitos/Diphida) is shown. Similar views will be seen in elsewhere in Australia 90 minutes before sunriseComet C/2020 F8 SWAN as seen looking east from Adelaide at 5:31 ACST (90 minutes before sunrise) on Friday the 8th of May. Similar views will be seen in elsewhere in Australia 90 minutes before sunrise
Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN as seen looking east from Adelaide at 6:05 ACST (60 minutes before sunrise) on Friday the 16th of May. Similar views will be seen in elsewhere in Australia 60 minutes before sunriseComet C/2020 F8 SWAN as seen looking east from Adelaide at 6:37 ACST (30 minutes before sunrise) on Saturday the 16th of May. Similar views will be seen in elsewhere in Australia 30 minutes before sunrise

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN is unexpectedly bright, Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN is currently magnitude 5 (just visible to the unaided eye) under dark sky conditions, and may reach magnitude 2.9 at its brightest (which unfortunately is lost in the twilight).

Currently in the constellation Cetus it will move rapidly into Pisces heading towards the horizon. It is brightening but is heading into the twilight from mid May. It may peak at magnitude 2.9 on 23 May but from Australia it is lost in the twilight. 
A black and white spotters chart suitable for printing. Click to embiggen and print.

Use with a red-light torch (or a standard torch with red cellophane over it) so as to not disturb your night vision.

Because the comet is a fuzzy dot it will be a bit harder to spot the equivalent brightness stars. Allow at least 5 minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted. 

Unfortunately there are no prominent guide stars to help find it, but it remains within around two binocular fields of Deneb Kaitos/ Diphia (Beta Ceti) for several nights.

The comet is also within a binocular field of dimmer Iota Ceti (about a hand-span north of Beta ceti) between the 4th-6th (and is almost on top of Iota Ceti on the 5th) thereafter it is in a field devoid of good spotter stars until it passes between faint delta and epsilon Pisces on the 10th.

A black and white spotters chart suitable for printing. Click to embiggen and print. The large circles are the approximate field of view of 10x50 binoculars.

Use with a red-light torch (or a standard torch with red cellophane over it) so as to not disturb your night vision.






MPEC one line ephemeris suitable for adding to astronomy programs such as Stellarium
    CK20F080  2020 05 27.3578  0.431538  1.011489   67.6825  260.0610  110.9672  20200531  10.0  4.0      C/2020 F8 (SWAN)


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Saturday, May 02, 2020

 

Southern Skywatch May 2020 edition is now out!

The evening sky facing west in Adelaide on Tuesday May 12 at 23:00 ACDST, The waxing Moon, Jupiter and Saturn for a triangle above the eastern horizon. (similar views will be seen Australia wide at the equivalent local time).





Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time, click to embiggen.


The May edition of Southern Skywatch is now up.

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN visible early May. May 6; Moon at perigee. May 6-7; Eta Aquarid meteor shower. May 11, Venus closest to Beta Tauri (Elnath). May 12; waxing Moon, Jupiter and Saturn form a triangle in the evening sky.. May 15-16 Waning Moon close to Mars. May 18; Moon at Apogee. May 22, Venus and Mercury at their closest. May 24; Thin crescent Moon close to Venus and Mercury. May 30;"Blue" First Quarter Moon (the second of two first quarter Moons this month).

Mercury returns to the evening sky late in the month for a meeting with Venus, then the thin crescent Moon .

Venus is sinhing towards the twilight. Thin crescent Venus meets up with Mercury on the 22nd and Mercury and the thin crescent Moon on the 24th before being lost in the twilight.

 Mars is close to the Moon on the 15th.

Jupiter enters the evening sky. On the 12th Jupiter, the waxing Moon and Saturn form an attractive triangle in the late evening/early morning sky.

Saturn  enters the late evening sky.

May 6; Moon at perigee. May 12; waxing Moon, Jupiter and Saturn form a triangle in the evening sky.. May 15-16 Waning Moon close to Mars. May 18; Moon at Apogee. May 24; Thin crescent Moon close to Venus and Mercury. May 30; "Blue" First Quarter Moon (the second of two first quarter Moons this month).

April 8, Moon at perigee, April 21; Moon at Apogee.

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Monday, April 27, 2020

 

Sky This Week - Thursday April 30 to Thursday May 7

The First Quarter Moon is Friday, May1 and the full Moon Thursday May 7. Venus is prominent in the evening sky well after twilight heading towards Beta Tauri (Elnath). Three bright planets are visible in the morning skies. Jupiter dominates the morning skies near Saturn and the pair are above Mars. Jupiter and Saturn are now rising before midnight, but are still best in the morning. Eta Aquariid Meteor shower (best mornings May 6-7)

The First Quarter Moon is Friday, May1 and the full Moon Thursday May 7.The Moon is at Perigee, when It is closest to the Earth, on May 6.

Evening sky at 18:28 ACST on Saturday, May 2 (60 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus is prominent low in the sky near Beta Tauri (Elnath). The inset shows the telescope view of Venus.

Venus is a distinct "crescent Moon" shape in even small telescopes. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia 60 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen.



Morning sky at 5:27 am ACST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing north-east as seen from Adelaide on Saturday, May 2.

Three bright planets are dominating the morning skies. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are high in the morning sky.




Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia 90 minutes minutes before sunrise.

Morning sky on Wednesday, May 6 looking north-east as seen from Brisbane  at 5:00 am local time (around 90 minutes before sunrise) showing the eta Aquariid meteor shower radiant as a star burst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (around 90 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

The eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the late evening/early morning of  6-7 May in Australia,

You should see a meteor every four minutes or so  under dark skies.



Venus is prominent low above the western horizon in the early evening sky. Venus is seen up to 90 minutes after sunset and was be at greatest brilliance last week. Venus is leaving behind the beautiful Hyades cluster and closing in on the bright star Elnath (Beta Tauri).

Three bright planets grace the morning sky.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

 Mars is visible high in the morning sky below Jupiter and Saturn. 

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and now can be seen in the late evening sky. Jupiter and Saturn stay around a hand-span apart during the week.

Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky below Jupiter drawing away from Mars.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.




Star Map via Virtual sky. Use your mouse to scroll around and press 8 when your pointer is in the map to set to current time.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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