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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The Sky This Week - Thursday December 24 to Thursday December 31

The First Quarter Moon is Friday December 25. Jupiter is easily seen as the brightest object in the western evening sky. Mercury disappears in the evening twilight. In the morning, Mars and Saturn are easily seen above the north-eastern horizon near the bight stars Regulus and Spica. Partial Lunar eclipse morning January 1 (WA only)

Morning sky looking north-east showing Mars, Saturn, Regulus and Spica at 3:00 am local daylight saving time (2:00 am non-daylight saving) on Saturday December 25. Click to embiggen.

The First Quarter Moon is Friday December 25. On the Morning of January 1st there will be a partial eclipse of the Moon, visible from Western Australia only. Mid eclipse is 3:22 am (non-daylight saving time), and viewers will see a small section of the moons north pole darken.

In the morning, Mars is readily visible in the eastern sky. Red Mars is now the constellation of Leo. Mars is a distinct gibbous disk in a small telescope, and becomes bigger and brighter during the week in the lead up to opposition in January.

Saturn is visible low in the morning sky between the bright stars Regulus and Spica. Mars, Regulus, Saturn and Spica form a nice line-up. Note the location of Vesta, which is visible in binoculars and will become visible to the unaided eye in February.

Bright white Venus is invisible the twilight glow and will not reappear until February.

South-Western horizon showing Mercury, the Moon and Jupiter at 21:00 pm local daylight saving time (20:00 pm non-daylight saving) on Friday December 18, click to embiggen.

Mercury can be seen just above the south-western horizon between half an hour to an hour after sunset. It will be slowly lost in the twilight as the week progresses.

Jupiter is easily seen as the brightest object in the western evening sky. Jupiter is big enough to be appreciated in even the smallest telescope but its proximity to the horizon will make telescope viewing difficult except for Jupiter's Moons which are readily visible in binoculars or a small telescope.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm ADST, Western sky at 10 pm ADST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch. Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.


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