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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

 

Thursday November 26 to Thursday December 3

The Full Moon is Monday November 30, this is a Blue Moon with a penumbral eclipse. The bright planet Venus in the twilight morning skies.  Three bright planets dominate the evening sky. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn make the evening skies stunning.The waxing Moon is close to Mars on 26th.

The Full Moon is Monday November 30, this is a Blue Moon with a penumbral eclipse. the Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest form the Earth, on the 27th

Evening sky at 21:55 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset) on Saturday, November 28 facing west as seen from Adelaide. The pair of Jupiter and Saturn are above the north-west horizon.  The pair are visibly closer now, heading for theri sectacular meeting in december.

 The insets show the telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn at the same magnification at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset), click to embiggen.

Whole sky at 21:55 ACDST  (90 minutes after sunset), on Saturday, November 28 as seen from
Adelaide.


Three bright planets are visible stretching west to east. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. The Moon away from the lineup this week. 

 Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). click to embiggen.


Evening sky at 21:52 ACDST  (90 minutes after sunset) on  Thursday, November 26 facing north as seen from Adelaide. Mars is above the northern horizon near the waxing Moon. Mars is past opposition, but is still excellent. more details here

The inset shows the telescopic view of Mars at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset), click to embiggen.
 
 
 

Morning sky on Saturday, November 28 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide at 5:07 am ACDST (45 minutes before sunrise). Venus is getting lower to the horizon. The comet C/2020 S3 Erasmus is visible in binoculars near Venus.

The left inset is the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

 
 Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (45 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

Lunar Eclipse, 3:10 am
Evening sky on November 6 looking east as seen from Sydney at 20:43 AEDST, at mid-eclipse. (click to embiggen). The subtle darkening of the Moon may be hard to spot.

Unfortunately, the November 30 penumbral eclipse occurs in the early evening, mostly in twilight. The moon is only partly embedded in Earths' outer shadow and the darkening will be difficult to spot. Eastern states have the best view and WA misses out.

You don't need special filters or fancy equipment to watch the lunar eclipse, you just need your eyes and somewhere comfortable to sit and watch. Watching the faint outer shadow of earth creep across the Moons face is quite challenging, as the darkening is subtle, but those on the east coast may find it rewarding (I have with past penumbral eclipses). The Moon is very obvious as it rises in the east.

For all states, the eclipse starts with the Moon below the horizon.

For the eastern states mid eclipse occurs at 20:43 AEDST with the Moon nearly two hand-spans above the horizon, and after civil twilight, so although faint it should be visible. The eclipse ends at 22:56 pm AEDST. In the central states, mid-eclipse occurs with the Moon just rising, deep in the twilight shortly after sunset and will be difficult to see, the eclipse end occurs 22:26 pm ACDST, after the end of astronomical twilight.

In WA, the eclipse start and mid eclipse all occur with the Moon below the horizon, and the rest of the eclipse deep in the twilight.

 
This week three bright planets,  Jupiter, Saturn and Mars can be seen at astronomical twilight, 90 minutes after sunset. Mars is high above the northern horizon and although slowly dimming, bright red Mars is unmistakable.The moon leaves the planetary lineup this week.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Venus is still visible low above the horizon in the morning

Mars is readily visible in the evening sky above the north -eastern horizon in the early evening. The waxing Moon is close to Mars on the 26th. Mars is close to the variable star Mira, which is still reasonably bright but will be difficult to see in the Moonlight. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on October the 14th, but is still worthwhile observing. Observing details and more at the Mars Opposition site.
  
Jupiter can be readily seen in the early evening sky in the west. Jupiter and Saturn start out two finger-widths apart at the beginning of the week but slowly draw closer. The pair are prominent in the evening skies along with Mars.
 
 Saturn too is visible in the early evening skies in the west and is also still an excellent sight.
 
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 the 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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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

 

Leonid Meteor Shower, November 18, 2020

 Morning sky looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 4:00 am AEDST on Wednesday 18 November  showing Leo, with the Leonid Meteor shower radiant indicated with a starburst. 


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


 
The starburst indicates the radiant, the apparent point of origin of the meteors (they can actually first appear much further away from the radiant).

The Leonids are an iconic meteor shower due to spectacular displays in 1833, 1966, 2001 and 2002. They are due to dusty debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle slamming into Earth's atmosphere. While occasional Leonid meteors can be seen most of November, the rate rises to a peak in mid-November. However, the spectacular rates of the storm years are long gone and will not reoccur for some time, For the foreseeable future only the occasional meteor will be seen, even at the peak.

This year the peak is on Sunday, November 18, with estimates of between 10-15 ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate - the number of meteors you could expect to see if the radiant was at the Zenith under dark skies). However, the radiant never gets very high in Australia, and although the peak occurs 3:30 am in Australia, we expect to see far fewer meteors than the ZHR. Somewhere in the range of one meteor every 30 minutes is likely even under dark skies. The early waxing  Moon sets sets well before radiant rise on the 18th  and so will not interfere.

While we can expect to see very few meteors, the morning will be a beautiful sight anyway.Orion the Hunter is stretched out overhead, and the Pleiades nearby. You might even see a satellite or two (but not the ISS or iridium flares). To check the weather forecast, go to the Meterology Departments forecast site, or alternately the Weather Channel.

When to look: The best time is between 3:00 am to 5:00 am daylight saving time (2-4 am standard time) on the mornings of the 18th to 19th.

Where to look: Face north-east. A hand span to the right brings you to the bright white star Alpha Leonis, Regulus (the point of a triangle made by the obvious bright stars Procyon and Pollux to the north). Following down and to the left from Regulus you will see a number of fainter stars which form a sickle shape, the head of the lion. The radiant of the Leonid shower will be roughly in the center of the curve of the sickle, about one finger width up (see image above). However, the meteors can turn up almost anywhere in the eastern half of the sky, so make sure you have a spot with a fairly clear field of view, without any bright street-lights in the way. Use common sense in choosing a viewing site. Lone persons should not choose dark parks in the seedy part of town to watch the Leonids, as a mugging can ruin your entire day.

What do you need: For meteor watching, very little is needed. Basically, all you need is you. If you want to try and count the meteors, you will need a couple of sheets of paper, a pencil and a good watch. Bundle up against the pre-dawn cold, warns shoes, thick socks, sensible pants and a good jumper and possibly a blanket to wrap yourself in (I really mean this, last time I had a jumper and a windproof and I was seriously cold). Bring a reclining chair if you have one, or just a picnic chair or a good picnic blanket, and find a dark site with a wide-open view of the sky. Then just lie back, relax, and look up at the stars. Optional extras are a torch with red cellophane over the business end (otherwise you ruin your night vision every time you turn it on), and a thermos of something warm to drink. Mosquito repellent is also a very good idea.

Give it some time: Many people wander out, look around for five minutes, see nothing and wander back in. It will take about five minutes for your eyes to become accustomed to the dark. Also, meteors tend to come in bursts, and if you wander out in a lull, you may miss lots. As well, our time perception sucks. You may think you have been watching for 10 minutes, but in reality only about 2 minutes has passed. Give it time, watch the stars, and enjoy.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

 

Thursday November 19 to Thursday November 26

The First Quarter Moon is Sunday November 22. The bright planet Venus  in the twilight morning skies.  Three bright planets dominate the evening sky. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn make the evening skies stunning.The crescent Moon is near Jupiter on the 19th and forms a line with Jupiter and Saturn on the 20th. The waxing Moon is close to Mars on the 25th and 26th.

The First Quarter Moon is Sunday November 22.

Evening sky at 21:43 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset) on Thursday, November 19 facing west as seen
from Adelaide. The pair of Jupiter and Saturn are above the north-west horizon.  The crescent Moon is close to Jupiter forming a triangle with Saturn. On Friday the moon forms a line with Jupiter and Saturn.

 The insets show the telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn at the same magnification at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset), click to embiggen.

Whole sky at 21:44 ACDST  (90 minutes after sunset), on Saturday, November 21 as seen from
Adelaide.


Three bright planets are visible stretching west to east. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. The Moon moves through the lineup this week. 

 Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). click to embiggen.


Evening sky at 2155 ACDST  on  Wednesday, November 25 facing north as seen from Adelaide. Mars is above the northern horizon near the waxing Moon. Mars is past opposition, but is still excellent. more details here

The inset shows the telescopic view of Mars at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time, click to embiggen.
 
 
 
Morning sky on Saturday, November 21 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide at 4:55 am ACDST (60 minutes before sunrise). Venus is getting lower to the horizon. The comet C/2020 S3 Erasmus is visible in binoculars above Venus.

The left inset is the telescopic view of Venus at this time. The right inset is the binocular view of the comet.
 
 Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

 
This week three bright planets,  Jupiter, Saturn and Mars can be seen at astronomical twilight, 90 minutes after sunset. Mars is high above the northern horizon and although slowly dimming, bright red Mars is unmistakable.The moon travels through the planetary lineup this week.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Venus is still visible low above the horizon in the morning

 Mars is readily visible in the evening sky above the north -eastern horizon in the early evening. The waxing Moon is close to Mars on the 25th and 26th. Mars is close to the variable star Mira, which is still reasonably bright. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on October the 14th, but is still worthwhile observing. Observing details and more at the Mars Opposition site.
  
Jupiter can be readily seen in the early evening sky in the west. Jupiter and Saturn start out three finger-widths apart at the beginning of the week but slowly draw closer. The pair are prominent in the evening skies along with Mars. On the 19th the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter forming a triangle with Saturn. On the 20th the Moon form a line with the pair
 
 Saturn too is visible in the early evening skies in the west and is also still an excellent sight. 
 
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 the 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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Saturday, November 14, 2020

 

Observing comet C/2020 M3 Atlas

Location of comet C/2020 M3 Atlas on Saturday, November 14 at 3:09 am ACDST, when it is highest in the sky. Similar views will be see elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time.Higher power view of the location of comet C/2020 M3 Atlas on Saturday, November 14 at 3:09 am ACDST, when it is highest in the sky. Similar views will be see elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time.


Comet C/2020 M3 ATLAS is the brightest comet at the moment, at reported magnitudes of 7.5-8.2. It is much brighter that the originally predicted magnitude of 13. It is relatively easly to find at the moment as it passes through the constellation of Orion, and at magnitude 7.5-8.2 it should be visible in 10x50 and stronger binoculars under dark skies, but may be a challenge under suburban skies. 

Sadly the best views are when t is hignest in the sky at around 3 am in the morning.

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.


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. 

For the next fe days the comet will be within binocular range of teh bright star Bellatrix, being closest on the morning of the 16th.

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Monday, November 09, 2020

 

Thursday November 12 to Thursday November 19

The New Moon is Sunday November 15. The bright planet Venus  in the twilight morning skies and is visited by the thin crescent Moon on the 13th.  Three bright planets dominate the evening sky. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn make the evening skies stunning.The crescent Moon is near Jupiter on the 19th. The Leonid meteor shower peaks on the mornings of the 17 and 18th, but the rates are very low.

The New Moon is Sunday November 15. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to the Earth, on the 14th.

Evening sky at 21:43 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset) on Thursday, November 19 facing west as seen
from Adelaide. The pair of Jupiter and Saturn are above the north-west horizon.  The crescent Moon is close to Jupiter forming a triangle with Saturn.

 The insets show the telescopic views of Jupiter and Saturn at the same magnification at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset), click to embiggen.

Whole sky at 21:36 ACDST  (90 minutes after sunset), on Saturday, November 14 as seen from
Adelaide.


Three bright planets are visible stretching west to east. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. The Moon joins the lineup later this week. 

 Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). click to embiggen.


Evening sky at 21:3 ACDST  on  Saturday, November 14 facing northeast as seen from Adelaide. Mars is above the north-north-eastern horizon. Mars is past opposition, but is still excellent. more details here.  The variable star Mira is still visible to the unaided eye not far from Mars (indicated with circle).

The inset shows the telescopic view of Mars at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time, click to embiggen.
 
 
 
Morning sky on Friday, November 13 showing the eastern sky as seen from Adelaide at 5:17 am ACDST (45 minutes before sunrise). Venus is getting lower to the horizon and is close to the thin crescent Moon.

The inset is the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

 
 Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (45 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

Morning sky facing north-east at 4:00 am AEDST on 18 November, the Leonid radiant is indicated with a starburst.

For this years Leonids the New Moon gives good viewing conditions. As for the recent past years this year there are low rates, you will be unlikely to see anything substantial (although there may be short bursts of higher rates). The best time to observe in Australia is the morning of the 17th and 18th between 3 and 4 am (daylight saving time). The Radiant (where the meteors appear to come from) is in the Sickle of Leo, see the map to the left. Orion and the Hyades will be visible. So it will be a quite nice morning, even if there are only a few meteors (possibly no more than one every half hour).

 
This week three bright planets,  Jupiter, Saturn and Mars can be seen at astronomical twilight, 90 minutes after sunset. Mars is high above the north-eastern horizon and although slowly dimming, bright red Mars is unmistakable.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Venus is still readily visible low above the horizon in the morning. It is close to the thin crescent Moon on the 13th. 

 Mars is readily visible in the evening sky above the north -eastern horizon in the early evening. Mars is close to the variable star Mira, which is still reasonably bright. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on October the 14th, but is still worthwhile observing. Observing details and more at the Mars Opposition site.
  
Jupiter can be readily seen in the early evening sky in the west. Jupiter and Saturn start out under a hand-span apart at the beginning of the week but slowly draw closer. The pair are prominent in the evening skies along with Mars. On the 19th the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter forming a triangle with Saturn.
 
 Saturn too is visible in the early evening skies in the west and is also still an excellent sight. 
 
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 the 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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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

 

Bright ISS passes shoot past Saturn and Jupiter (4-11 November, 2020)

The ISS as seen from Melbourne  on the evening of Wednesday 5 November  at 20:46 AEDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS  as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Saturday 7 November at 20:18 ACDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS as seen from Perth on the evening of Saturday 7 November at 19:21 AWST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot)click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Wednesday 5 November  for Melbourne .All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Saturday 7 November for Adelaide.All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Saturday 7 November for Perth.

Over the next few days there are a series of  bright ISS passes in the late evening twilight/early evening. The outstanding passes are when the ISS passes below or through Jupiter and Saturn (See above and Sydney 5th), or Mars (Sydney 6th) and in some sites through the pointers (Adelaide 5th , Brisbane 6th), or very close to these bright stars.

The following tables are from data provided from Heavens Above. Particularly impressive passes are highlighted.

Passes from Adelaide (ACDST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
04 Nov-3.821:01:3210°SW21:04:5989°NW21:06:2333°NEvisible
05 Nov-3.220:13:4910°SW20:17:1048°SE20:20:2810°ENEvisible
05 Nov-1.121:51:5310°W21:53:3713°NW21:53:4113°NWvisible
06 Nov-1.921:03:0810°WSW21:05:5924°NW21:08:0614°Nvisible
07 Nov-2.920:14:5810°WSW20:18:1746°NW20:21:3310°NNEvisible


Passes from Brisbane (AEST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
04 Nov-1.418:59:5110°S19:01:4714°SE19:03:2511°ESEvisible
04 Nov-0.820:35:2910°WSW20:36:2316°WSW20:36:2316°WSWvisible
05 Nov-3.719:47:3210°SW19:50:4376°SW19:50:4376°SWvisible
06 Nov-3.218:59:5110°SSW19:03:0944°SE19:05:0820°ENEvisible
07 Nov-1.719:49:2110°WSW19:51:5520°NW19:52:3519°NWvisible
08 Nov-2.619:00:5910°WSW19:04:1340°NW19:07:0912°NNEvisible
10 Nov-0.719:04:3010°WNW19:05:0310°WNW19:05:3610°NWvisible


Passes from Darwin (ACT)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
07 Nov-0.720:54:5210°SW20:55:3315°SW20:55:3315°SWvisible
08 Nov-2.920:07:1610°SSW20:10:0838°SE20:10:0838°SEvisible
09 Nov-1.919:20:1010°S19:22:3718°SE19:24:4711°Evisible
09 Nov-0.620:57:0610°W20:57:4613°W20:57:4613°Wvisible
10 Nov-2.420:08:2310°WSW20:11:2934°NW20:12:3027°NNWvisible
11 Nov-3.719:20:2010°SW19:23:4386°NW19:27:0410°NEvisible
13 Nov-1.019:22:2710°W19:24:3816°NW19:26:4810°NNWvisible

 
Passes from Hobart (AEDST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
04 Nov-1.221:32:4910°W21:34:4314°NW21:36:2311°NNWvisible
05 Nov-1.820:44:1710°W20:47:0523°NW20:49:5110°Nvisible


Passes from Melbourne (AEDST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
04 Nov-2.321:32:2210°WSW21:35:2430°NW21:36:2325°NNWvisible
05 Nov-3.220:44:2010°WSW20:47:4255°NW20:50:4312°NEvisible
07 Nov-1.320:46:1610°W20:48:3617°NW20:50:5510°Nvisible


Passes from Perth (AWST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
04 Nov-3.720:05:0810°SW20:08:3467°SE20:09:2047°ENEvisible
05 Nov-2.719:17:3110°SSW19:20:4335°SE19:23:4111°ENEvisible
05 Nov-1.120:55:0610°W20:56:3815°WNW20:56:3815°WNWvisible
06 Nov-2.220:06:3310°WSW20:09:3630°NW20:11:0321°Nvisible
07 Nov-3.319:18:2910°SW19:21:5361°NW19:25:1310°NNEvisible
09 Nov-1.119:20:3310°W19:22:4616°NW19:24:5810°NNWvisible



Passes from Sydney (AEDST)

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
04 Nov-2.319:57:2310°SSW20:00:2327°SE20:03:2210°Evisible
04 Nov-1.721:34:1610°WSW21:36:2322°WNW21:36:2322°WNWvisible
05 Nov-3.020:46:0610°WSW20:49:2446°NW20:50:4329°Nvisible
06 Nov-3.719:58:1210°SW20:01:3987°SE20:05:0310°NEvisible
07 Nov-1.120:48:3210°W20:50:1713°NW20:52:0110°NNWvisible
08 Nov-1.819:59:4610°WSW20:02:3825°NW20:05:2710°Nvisible


When and what you will see is VERY location dependent, so you need to use  Heavens Above  to get site specific predictions for your location, a small difference in location can mean the difference between the ISS passing over a star or planet or missing it completely. As always, start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, there may be slight differences in the time of the ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions. Use the most recent prediction for your site.

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