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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday February 25 to Thursday March 4

The Full Moon is Monday March 1. Mars has faded and is now the second brightest object after Sirius 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 and is close to the Moon on Tuesday March 2. Mercury is near bright stars in Capricorn. Venus appears low in the twilight.

Morning sky looking east showing Mercury at 6:15 am local daylight saving time (5:15 am non-daylight saving) on Friday February 26. Click to embiggen.

The Full Moon is Monday March 1.

Saturn is visible high in the northern morning sky as the bright yellow object between the bright stars Regulus and Spica. Saturn is near the Moon on Tuesday March 2. Saturn is actually rising around 9 pm daylight saving time, and is easily seen in the east in the late evening sky. However, Saturn 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. At the beginning of the week Mercury is extremely close to the bright star delta Capricornii. After this encounter Mercury is rapidly lost in the twilight.

Bright white Venus continues to rise above from the twilight glow. People with flat, level horizons and good eyesight can see Venus above the western horizon half an hour after Sunset.

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 description of the opposition of Vesta). 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 further 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 Friday February 26, click to embiggen.

In the evening Mars can be seen 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 still a good time to look at our sister world in a telescope. Shortly after 10:00 pm local daylight saving time (9:00 pm non-daylight saving time) Mars is at is highest 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, nearly halfway between Pollux and the Beehive Cluster. Mars is at a standstill for this 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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