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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday August 6 to Thursday August 13

The full Moon is Thursday August 6. Mercury is now visible in the evening twilight, heading for Saturn. Saturn is visible in the early evening above the north-western horizon. Jupiter is easily seen as the brightest object above the eastern horizon from around 8 pm local time. In the morning, Venus and Mars are readily visible in the eastern sky. Perseid Meteor Shower peaks August 12-13.

Evening sky looking west at 6:15 pm local time on August 13. Click to embiggen.

The Full Moon is Thursday August 6.

Mercury is now visible in the western evening twilight. Mercury rises rapidly in the sky, closing in on Saturn (see diagram left).

Saturn is visible in the early evening and can be easily seen as the second brightest object above the north-western horizon but now sets around 9:00 pm local time. Although Saturn is poorly placed for telescopic viewing, its rings are nearly edge on now.

Jupiter is easily seen as the brightest object above the eastern horizon from around 8 pm local time. Jupiter will be at opposition, where it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, next week. Jupiter's Moons are readily visible in binoculars or a small telescope. On Thursday August 6 the Moon is near Jupiter. Friday August 7 has an interesting alignment of Moons.

Mars, Venus, Aldebaran, Pleiades and Hyades at 6:00 am local time on Friday morning August 7, click to embiggen.

In the morning, Venus and Mars are readily visible in the eastern sky. Red Mars is below the A-shaped Hyades cluster, which forms the head of Taurus the Bull (see image above) . Bright white Venus is well below Aldebaran, and forms a triangle with Aldebaran and red Betelguese in Orion.

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks on the morning of Thursday August 13. Despite this being a quite reasonable meteor shower, and probably in outburst this year, for most of Australia, the radiant is below the horizon, and only the very occasional meteor shooting up from the northern horizon will be seen.

Northern sky as seen from Darwin on the morning of August 13 at 4:00 am. Click to embiggen.

You can check predictions for your local area at the NASA meteor flux estimator (choose 7 Perseids and 12-13 August 2009). People around Alice Springs and Darwin have the best chance of seeing meteors, although the waning Moon's light may interfere. To see the meteors, you will need to be up around 3:00 am local time on the 13th, with best views 4:00 am-5:30 am. The meteor shower will be located due North, with the radiant just above the northern horizon.

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

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