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Tuesday, July 06, 2010


The Sky This Week - Thursday July 8 to Thursday July 15

The New Moon is Monday July 12. This week sees 4 of the 5 classic planets visible in the evening sky. Venus is close to Regulus on the 10 and 11th. Venus, Regulus and the thin crescent Moon are close on the 14th, with Mercury below. Venus the crescent moon and Mars make a nice lineup on the 15th with Saturn close by. Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky.

Evening sky looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 7:00 pm on Saturday July 10. Click to embiggen.

The New Moon is Monday July 12.

Jupiter rises before midnight, but is still 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.

Evening sky looking North-west showing Mercury,Venus, Mars, Saturn and Regulus at 5:50 pm local time on Wednesday July 14. Click to embiggen.

Mercury can be seen by the keen-eyed low above the western horizon half an hour after sunset at the beginning of the week, but becomes easier to see during the week. On the 13th the thin crescent Moon is near Mercury low in the west in the twilight.

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 is in Leo the lion, close to Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, Mars and Saturn. On the July 10th Venus and Regulus are closest at 1 degree (about a fingerwidth) apart. On Wednesday July 14 the crescent Moon, Venus and Regulus are close. On the next night, July 15, Venus, the crescent Moon and Mars form a shallow triangle.

In the evening Mars can be seen low in the north-western sky. Mars is to the right of Regulus, midway between Regulus and Saturn at the beginning of the week. Mars comes closer to Saturn during the week. 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 becoming more difficult as Saturn sets earlier. 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 12th of July, Saturns' Moon Titan cruises just above the planets North 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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