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Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The Sky This Week - Thursday December 31 to Thursday January 7

The Full Moon is Friday January 1. Jupiter is easily seen as the brightest object in the western evening sky. In the morning, Mars and Saturn are easily seen above the north-eastern horizon near the bight stars Regulus and Spica. These planets are visited by the Waning moon this week. Partial Lunar eclipse morning January 1 (WA only).

Morning sky looking north-east showing the Moon, Mars, Saturn, Regulus and Spica at 3:00 am local daylight saving time (2:00 am non-daylight saving) on Monday January 4. Click to embiggen.

The Full Moon is Friday January 1. 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 but is moving back towards Cancer. Mars is a distinct nearly full disk in a small telescope, and becomes bigger and brighter during the week in the lead up to opposition in January. The waning Moon is close to Mars on Monday, January 4.

Saturn is visible low in the morning sky between the bright stars Regulus and Spica. Mars, Regulus, Saturn and Spica from a nice line-up with the Moon between January 4 and January 7.

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 Jupiter at 21:00 pm local daylight saving time (20:00 pm non-daylight saving) on Thursday December 31, click to embiggen.

Mercury is lost in the eastern twilight.

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 too the horizon makes seeing surface features difficult. Jupiter's Moons 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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