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Monday, March 23, 2020

 

Sky This Week - Thursday March 26 to Thursday April 2

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday, April 1. Venus is prominent in the evening sky well after twilight as is heads towards the Pleiades. Venus is near the crescent Moon on March 28. Four bright planets are visible in the morning skies. Jupiter dominates the morning skies as Mars heads towards Saturn with Mercury below. Mars and Saturn  are closest on April 1. The Red Giant star Betelgeuse in Orion is still dim but is brightening.

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday, April 1.

Sky at 20:10 ACDST on Saturday, March 28 (60 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus is prominent in the sky. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time. Venus is a distinct "half Moon" shape.






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



Morning sky at 6:04 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Wednesday, April 1.

Four bright planets are dominating the morning skies. Mars is at its closest to Saturn  and Mercury is bright below. The inset shows the wide filed telescopic view at this time.


Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise).




Evening sky looking north-west at 20:40 ACDST on Saturday, Saturday, March 28. (90 minutes after sunset). Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. Orion is readily visible. Betelgeuse is the bright red star to the right of the "saucepan" of Orion.

Betelgeuse has begun brightening again, so keep watching this iconic star.

Betelgeuse is a red giant star which forms a distinctive part of the Constellation of Orion. It is a variable star, with small fluctuations in brightness not visible to the casual observer.

Betelgeuse had dimmed substantially and reached a minimum of around magnitude 1.6, but is now brightening again and is about magnitude 1.1. It is still  dimmer than magnitude 1 Aldebaran, the next brightest star just to the west of Betelgeuse. Keep an eye on this historic dimming and re-brightening event, observing hints and stars for magnitude estimation are given here. The waxing moon will not interfere with estimates of  Betelgeuses' brightness during the  week.

Venus is prominent above the western horizon in the early evening sky. Venus is now readily seen up to 90 minutes after sunset. Venus will come closer to the beautiful Pleiades cluster over the coming week, and will pass through it next week. Venus is close to the crescent Moon on the 28th.

Four bright planets grace the morning sky..

Mercury climbs higher the morning sky and getting visibly brighter as it goes.


 Mars is visible high in the morning sky. Mars comes closer to Saturn and is at its closest on April the 1st.

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky, moving away from Mars.

Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky below Jupiter. Mars comes closer to Saturn and the pair are closest on April the 1st.

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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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

 

The Moon climbs down the ladder of Planets (March 18-22. 2020)

Morning sky at 5:52 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Wedensday, March 18.Morning sky at 5:53 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Thursday, March 19.
Morning sky at 5:55 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Saturday, March 21.Morning sky at 5:56 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Sunday, March 22.

Staring on the morning of Wednesday 18 March there is a outstanding line up of 4 bright planets and the Moon, each day the Moon moves down the line-up bring superb views.

Two outstanding ones are on the 19th when Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the crescent moon from an attractive grouping in the sky and on the 21st When Mars is cloosest to Jupiter. 

The display finishes on the 22nd with the thin crescent Moon near mercury.

This is an excellent opportunity of astrophotography, as well as just being great to watch with the unaided eye.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday March 19 to Thursday March 26

The New Moon is Tuesday, March 24. Venus is prominent in the evening sky well after twilight and is at its greatest distance from the Sun on the 25th. Four bright planets will be visible in the morning skies. Mars heads towards Jupiter with Saturn below. On the 19th Mars, Jupiter Saturn and the crescent moon from an attractive grouping in the sky. Mars and Jupiter are closest on the 21st. Mercury is low to the horizon and is close to the crescent Moon on the 22nd. The Red Giant star Betelgeuse in Orion is still dim but is brightening.

The New Moon is Tuesday, March 24.The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 25th.

Sky at 20:20 ACDST on Saturday, March 21 (60 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus is prominent in the sky. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time. Venus is a distinct "half Moon" shape.






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





Morning sky at 5:53 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Thursday, March 19.

Four bright planets are dominating the morning skies. Mars is coming closer to Jupiter and the crescent Moon forms an attractive pattern with Jupiter, Mars and Saturn on the 19th.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise).



Morning sky at 5:55 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Saturday, March 21.

Mars is at its closest to Jupiter;Saturn the crescent Moon and Mercury are below the pair. The inset shows the wide filed telescopic view at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise).




Morning sky at 5:56 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Sunday, March 22.

Mercury is close to the thin crescent Moon.






Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise).



Evening sky looking north-west at 20:50 ACDST on Saturday, Saturday, March 21. (90 minutes after sunset). Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. Orion is readily visible. Betelgeuse is the bright red star below the "saucepan" of Orion.

Betelgeuse has begun brightening again, so keep watching this iconic star.

Betelgeuse is a red giant star which forms a distinctive part of the Constellation of Orion. It is a variable star, with small fluctuations in brightness not visible to the casual observer.

Betelgeuse has dimmed substantially and reached a minimum of around magnitude 1.6, but is now brightening again and is about magnitude 1.2. It is still visibly dimmer than magnitude 1 Aldebaran and brighter than Bellatrix. The next brightest star just to the west of Betelgeuse. Keep an eye on this historic dimming and re-brightening event, observing hints and stars for magnitude estimation are given here. The new moon will not interfere with estimates of  Betelgeuses' brightness during the  week.

Venus is prominent above the western horizon in the early evening sky. Venus is now readily seen up to 90 minutes after sunset. Venus will come closer to the beautiful Pleiades cluster over the coming weeks. Venus is at its greatest distance from the Sun on the 25th.

Four bright planets grace the morning sky and are joined by the crescent moon on the 19th-22nd. On the 19th Mars, Jupiter Saturn and the crescent moon from an attractive grouping in the sky.

Mercury climbs higher the morning sky and getting visibly brighter as it goes. It is close to the thin crescent Moon on the 22nd.


 Mars is visible high in the morning sky. On the 19th Mars, Jupiter Saturn and the crescent moon from an attractive grouping in the sky. Mars comes closer to Jupiter and is at its closest on the 21st.

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky, closing in on Mars. It is near the thin crescent Moon on the 19th.

Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky below Jupiter. It is near the thin crescent Moon on the 19th and 20th.


Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEDST, Western sky at 10 pm AEDST. 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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Thursday, March 12, 2020

 

My images of the March 10 Perigee Moon.

Full Moon March 10 22:00 AEDST, 6 hours after Perigee. Click to embiggen.Full Moon September 14, 2019, Apogee -  15h
Stellarium prediction: Full Moon March 10 22:00 AEDST, 6 hours after Perigee. Click to embiggen.Stellarium prediction: Full Moon September 14, 2019, Apogee -  15h

Tuesday March10 was a perigee full Moon. Strictly Full Moon was at 4:18 ACDST and perigee was at 17:00 ACDST. The Full Moon is a perigee Moon when the Full Moon is closest to the Earth.

I captured the images above with my Xperia Mobile phone (1/4000th second exposure ASA 800) and my 4" Newtonian with 25 mm Plossl lens. The comparison image is the September 14 apogee Moon taken under the same conditions. The row below are the stellarium simulations. The simulations are rotated a bit compared to the telescope images due to the camera orientation, but the images are otherwise spot on.


Overlay of March perigee moon (right) and September apogee Moon (left).
You can see previous perigee/apogee moon pairs here, here and here

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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday March 12 to Thursday March 19

The First Quarter Moon is Monday, March 16. Venus is prominent in the evening sky well after twilight. Four bright planets will be visible in the morning skies. On the 18th The crescent Moon joins the line-up. Mars heads towards Jupiter with  Saturn below. On the 19th Mars, Jupiter Saturn and the crescent moon from an attractive grouping in the sky. Mercury is low to the horizon. The Red Giant star Betelgeuse in Orion is still dim but seems to be brightening.

The First Quarter Moon is Monday, March 16.

Sky at 20:30 ACDST on Saturday, March 14 (60 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus is prominent in the sky. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time.





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


Morning sky at 5:53 ACDST (90 minutes minutes before sunrise) facing east as seen from Adelaide on Thursday, March 19.

Four bright planets are dominating the morning skies. Mars is coming closer to Jupiter and the crescent Moon forms an attractive pattern with Jupiter, Mars and Saturn on the 19th.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise).


Evening sky looking north-west at 21:00 ACDST on Saturday, Saturday, March 7. (90 minutes after sunset). Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. Orion is readily visible. Betelgeuse is the bright red star below the "saucepan" of Orion. Red Aldebaran is almost the same height above the horizon as red Betelgeuse, making brightness comparisons easy.

Betelgeuse has begun brightening again, so keep watching this iconic star.

Betelgeuse is a red giant star which forms a distinctive part of the Constellation of Orion. It is a variable star, with small fluctuations in brightness not visible to the casual observer.

Betelgeuse has dimmed substantially and reached a minimum of around magnitude 1.6, but is now brightening again and is about magnitude 1.4. It is still visibly dimmer than magnitude 1 Aldebaran and roughly as bright as Bellatrix. The next brightest star just to the north of Betelgeuse. Keep an eye on this historic dimming event, observing hints and stars for magnitude estimation are given here. The waning moon will not interfere with estimates of  Betelgeuses' brightness during the latter half of the week.

Venus is prominent above the western horizon in the early evening sky. Venus is now readily seen up to 90 minutes after sunset. Venus will come closer to the beautiful Pleiades cluster over the coming weeks.

Four bright planets grace the morning sky and are joined by the crescent moon on the 18th and 19th. There is a particularly attractive grouping on the 19th

Mercury returns to the morning sky and gets visibly brighter during the week.


 Mars is visible high in the morning sky. Mars comes closer to Jupiter during the week.

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky, closing in on Mars.

Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky below Jupiter.


Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEDST, Western sky at 10 pm AEDST. 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, March 08, 2020

 

Perigee ("super") Full Moon March 10, 2020.

Full Moon March 10 22:00 AEDST, 6 hours after Perigee. Click to embiggen.Full Moon November 1 02:00, apogee -20h.

Tuesday March10 is a perigee full Moon. Strictly Full Moon is at 4:18 ACDST and perigee is at 17:00 ACDST. The Full Moon is a perigee Moon when the Full Moon is closest to the Earth. This is not as good as the April 8 perigee Moon but is still very good.

As perigee is when the moon is blow the horizon, at moon rise the Moon is receding from Earth but still larger ten at the moment of full Moon at around 4 am.

However, don't look just at moon rise as the horizon illusion will make the Moon look bigger than it is, wait until it is a decent way above the horizon. anywhere between  9 am to 11 am the Moon will still be a decent diameter. The location of the Moon to the north-east will be obvious.

You won't see much of a difference if you compare it with them memory of last months full Moon. You will need to either remember the apogee Moon of September 13/14 or wait until the October 31/November 1 apogee Moon for the best size contrast.

A full Moon at perigee has been called a "Super Moon", this is not an astronomical term (the astronomical term is perigee syzygy, but that doesn't trip off the tongue so nicely), but an astrological one first coined in 1979 (see here).

Still, it is a good excuse to get people out and looking at the Moon. A guide to photographing the Perigee Full Moon is here.

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Saturday, March 07, 2020

 

Venus close to Uranus (8-9 March, 2020)

Sky at 20:39 ACDST on Sunday, March 8 (60 minutes after sunset) looking west as seen from Adelaide. Venus is prominent in the sky. At this time it is closest to the dim planet Uranus. The inset shows the approximate binocular view of Venus and Uranus at this time.





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


On the 8th and 9th Venus is close to Uranus.  Close in this context being around two finger-widths away. While in theory Unaus is bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye (magnitude 5.8), its closeness to the horizon, best visibility at nautical twilight (and hour after sunset) and the brightness of Venus, Uranus will be effectively visible only in binoculars.


Black and white spotters chart suitable for printing (click to embiggen and print).  The grey area is below the horizon.

Unfortunately stellarium washes out the stars when I try and make a higher powered spotters map, so I made a black and white printable map, this shows the track of Venus and Urans from the 7th to 10.

The circle is the approximate filed of view of 10x50 binoculars and the Pleiades (also seen in the stellarium chart) are at the upper right.



Black and white binocular chart suitable for printing (click to embiggen and print).

The chart is in the same orientation as the spotters charts,stars down to magnitude 11 are shown. The circle is the approximate filed of view of 10x50 binoculars. This shows the track of Venus and Uranus from the 7th to 10.

A scale line and compass direction is also shown. Use in conjunction with a red torch to preserve your night sight.

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