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Tuesday, February 09, 2010


The Sky This Week - Thursday February 11 to Thursday February 18

The New Moon is Sunday February 14. Jupiter disappears in the western twilight. Mars is now the brightest object in the late evening sky. Asteroid Vesta at its brightest. In the morning, Saturn is easily seen above the northern horizon near the bight stars Regulus and Spica. Mercury is low in the morning twilight and is near the crescent Moon Friday February 12.

Morning sky looking South-east showing Mercury at 5:30 am local daylight saving time (4:30 am non-daylight saving) on Friday February 12. Click to embiggen.

The New Moon is Sunday February 14.

Saturn is visible in the northern morning sky between the bright stars Regulus and Spica. Saturn is actually rising before 11 pm daylight saving time, but is still best seen in the morning and worth a look in a telescope. Saturns' rings are opening, and look quite beautiful.

Mercury is low in the morning twilight, having passed close to some of the brighter stars of Sagittarius. On Thursday January 12 Mercury is below the crescent Moon (see image above)

Western Horizon (above the sea) at 20:20 local daylight saving time (7:20 pm non daylight saving time on Tuesday the 16th of February.

Bright white Venus is all but invisible the twilight glow. People with flat, level horizons and good eyesight may try and see Venus next to Jupiter not far from the thin 4% illuminated crescent Moon on the evening of Tuesday February 16. Binoculars may be needed.

Jupiter is very difficult to see very low in the western twilight sky, it is near Venus on the 16th, and is lost to view after that.

The asteroid Vesta is visible in binoculars not far from Regulus. It is within a binocular field of Gamma Leonis (see Mars diagram below, this PDF map and this diagram). Vesta will be at its brightest this week (starting Monday February 15) and be visible to the unaided eye under dark skies. Between the evening of Tuesday February 16 and the morning of the 17th, Vesta will pass between gamma and 40 Leonis, a very interesting encounter to watch over the course of the night/morning.

North-eastern horizon showing Mars and the Beehive cluster (Paerasepe) at 10:00 pm local daylight saving time (9:00 pm non-daylight saving) on Saturday February 6, click to embiggen.

In the evening Mars can be seen from around 9:00 pm local daylight saving time low in the north-eastern sky as the brightest (and clearly red) object in the sky. Mars was at opposition on January 30, but now is a good time to look at our sister world in a telescope. Mars is a distinct nearly full disk in a small telescope, although somewhat small. Larger telescopes will be needed to distinguish surface features. Red Mars is in the constellation of Cancer and is within a binocular field of the Beehive cluster (Paerasepe) early in the week.

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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