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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday August 19 to Thursday August 26

The Full Moon is Wednesday August 25. Four of the 5 classic planets are visible together in the early evening sky. Mars Venus and Saturn form a triangle, with Mars and Venus closest on the 19th. Mercury is below these three. Comet Encke may be visible in binoculars near Mercury on the 19th. Jupiter can be seen in the east in the late evening.

Evening sky looking North-west showing Mercury,Venus, Mars, Saturn and Comet Encke at 6:30 pm local time on Thursday August 19. Click to embiggen.

The Full Moon is Wednesday August 25.

Jupiter rises before midnight, and can be readily seen from about 9 pm local time just above the eastern horizon. By the end of the week you can see Jupiter rising in the east while Venus is setting in the west.

Jupiter is still visible in the north-western sky as the brightest object low in the early morning. Jupiter and Uranus are close together and can be seen near each other in a pair of binoculars. Uranus is the brightest object within a binocular field north of Jupiter.


Evening sky looking North-west as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 pm on Thursday August 26 showing Mercury below the massing of the Spica, Venus, Saturn, and Mars. Comet Encke is not far from Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

Four of the five classic planets can be seen together in the early evening sky making fantastic patterns.

Mercury can be seen above the western horizon from half an hour after sunset. It is still quite easy to see, just below the massing of Venus, Mars and Saturn. On the 19th Mercury and the comet 2P/Encke are a degree apart, and Encke should be reasonably visible in binoculars. On the 20th, Mercury and Comet Encke within a binocular field of each other. The Comet is at at magnitude 7 and may be a little difficult to spot, it will look like a fuzzy dot. Over the week Encke climbs higher in the evening sky, but fades rapidly, and may be lost to binoculars by the 25th

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 now in Virgo the Virgin, close to Mars and Saturn. On Thursday August 19 Venus, is at its closest to Mars, forming a long narrow triangle with Saturn. During the week Mars and Venus close in on the bright star Spica.

In the evening Mars can be seen low in the north-western sky. Mars is beside Venus, at the beginning of the week. Mars is distinguishable by its reddish colouring.

Saturn is easily visible in the western evening sky as the bright yellow object below Venus and Mars. During the week Saturn draws further apart from the pair. Telescopic observation of the ringed world is now difficult as Saturn sets earlier.

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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