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Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The Sky This Week - Thursday July 1 to Thursday July 8

The Last Quarter Moon is Monday July 5. Venus is readily visible in the early evening, heading towards Regulus. Venus, Regulus, Mars and Saturn make an attractive line up. Mercury returns to the evening sky. Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky and is close to the Moon on Sunday July 4.

Morning sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 4:30 am on Sunday July 4. Click to embiggen.

The Last Quarter Moon is Monday July 5.

Jupiter is clearly visible in the northern sky as the brightest object in the early morning. Jupiter is now high enough for telescopic observation to be rewarding. Jupiter looks a little different now that one of its bands has disappeared. Jupiter and Uranus are close together and can be seen near each other in a pair of binoculars (spotters map here). On Sunday July 4 the waning Moon is close to Jupiter.

Evening sky looking North-west showing Mercury,Venus, Mars and Regulus at 5:50 pm local time on Thursday July 8. Click to embiggen.

Mercury can be seen by the keen-eyed low above the western horizon half an hour after sunste by the end of the week.

Bright white Venus is readily visible above the western horizon from half an hour after Sunset, (even before) until past the end of twilight (about an hour and a half after sunset). Venus starts the week in Leo, forming a line with the Regulus, Mars and Saturn. During the week Venus moves closer towards Regulus as a prelude to some spectacular planetary alignments in July and August.

In the evening Mars can be seen low in the north-western sky. Mars is to the right of Regulus, the bright star in Leo the lion at the beginning of the week and will draw further away from it during the week, coming closer to Saturn. Mars is now only slightly brighter than Regulus, but is distinguishable by its reddish colouring.

Saturn is easily visible in the western evening sky as the bright yellow object between the bright stars Regulus and Spica, just up from Mars. Telescopic observation of the ringed world is now becoming more difficult. Saturn is high enough in the sky for the best telescopic views at around 7 pm. Saturn's' rings are opening, and look quite beautiful, even in a small telescope. On the 4th of July, Saturns' Moon Titan cruises just below the planets South pole.

If you don't have a telescope, now is a good time to visit one of your local astronomical societies open nights or the local planetariums.

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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