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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday February 18 to Thursday February 25

The First Quarter Moon is Monday February 21. Mars is now the brightest object in the late evening sky. Asteroid Vesta is still bright. In the morning, Saturn is easily seen above the northern horizon near the bight stars Regulus and Spica. Mercury is near bright stars in Capricorn. Venus appears in the morning twilight.

Morning sky looking north showing Saturn at 3:30 am local daylight saving time (2:30 am non-daylight saving) on Sunday February 21. Click to embiggen.

The First Quarter Moon is Monday February 21.

Saturn is visible high 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 well worth a look in a telescope. Saturns' rings are opening, and look quite beautiful.

Mercury is lowering in the morning twilight, and is becoming difficult to see without a flat, level horizon. By the end of the week Mercury is very close to the bright stars gamma and delta Capricornii.

Bright white Venus is slowly rises from the twilight glow. People with flat, level horizons and good eyesight can see Venus above the western horizon half an hour after Sunset by the end of the week.

Jupiter is lost to view in the evening twilight.

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 is still bright this week and and will be visible to the unaided eye under dark skies. Over the week you can see Vesta draw away from gamma Leonis.

Northern horizon showing Mars and the Moon at 10:00 pm local daylight saving time (9:00 pm non-daylight saving) on Thursday February 25, click to embiggen.

In the evening Mars can be seen flow 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. Shortky after 10:00 pm local daylight saving time (9:00 pm non-daylight saving time) Mars is at is hihest in the sky, this is the best time to look at Mars 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.

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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