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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday February 4 to Thursday February 11

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday February 6. Jupiter is difficult to see low in the western twilight sky. Mars is now the brightest object in the late evening sky. 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.

Morning sky looking South-east showing Mercury at 5:30 am local daylight saving time (4:30 am non-daylight saving) on Thursday February 11. Click to embiggen.

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday February 6.

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.

The asteroid Vesta is visible in binoculars not far from Regulus. It is within a binocular field of Gamma Leonis (see Mars diagram below and this PDF map) and will steadily get closer to this star and brigher over the week. Vesta will become visible to the unaided eye under dark skies in mid-February.

Mercury is low in the morning twilight, having passed close to some of the brighter stars of Sagittarius. On Thursday January 11 Mercury is below the crescent Moon (see image above)

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

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.

Jupiter is very difficult to see very low in the western twilight sky.

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 last week 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), being closest around 6-7 February.

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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