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Tuesday, March 01, 2011


The Sky This Week - Thursday March 3 to Thursday March 10

The New Moon is Saturday March 5. Jupiter is seen very low in the evening twilight sky and is close to the Moon on March 7. Venus is visible in the morning sky in the constellation of Capricorn, and visits some double stars. Saturn is well placed for telescopic observation. Globe-at-Night light pollution Survey.

Morning sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am daylight saving time on Monday March 7 showing Venus in Capricorn (the double stars it is near is hidden by its brightness). Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The New Moon is Saturday March 5.

Bright white Venus is readily seen in the early morning sky. On March 7, Venus is within one finger width of three double stars, Omicron, Rho (the closest) and Pi Capricorni, this will be intereting to view in binoculars or a small telescope..

Venus is "gibbous" phase, and will progressively become more full (and smaller) over the coming weeks.

Mercury is lost to the twilight.

Evening sky on March 5 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 11:00 pm daylight saving time in South Australia showing Saturn near Spica. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.

Inset, the telescopic view of Saturn on the 5th (and on the morning of the 6th), you will need a fairly large telescope to see any moon other than Titan. Click to embiggen

Saturn is rising well before midnight, and is high enough for telescopic observation in the late evening, although it is best seen in the early morning. It readily visible not far from the bright star Spica.

The big storm on Saturn is now so large that it is visible in even small telescopes.

Even in small telescopes you can see Saturn's rings and it's moon Titan. Titan is close to Saturn on the 8th and 9th.

The asteroid Vesta is quite faint (magnitude 7.8), so you need binoculars to see it and may need to watch over a number of nights to make sure you are seeing it. However, on the 3rd it is almost on top the star pi Sagittarii (see printable PDF map here). You will need to get up a bit before 5:00 am local daylight saving time when the sky is still very dark. You will also need good, steady binoculars or a small telescope, and to make sure your eyes are dark adapted, in order to see Vesta, but it will be worthwhile.

Evening sky looking west showing Jupiter at 8:00 pm local daylight saving time on Monday March 7. Click to embiggen.

Mars is too close to the Sun to be seen.

Jupiter is becoming difficult to see, setting in the late twilight. Jupiter is above the north-western horizon, setting around 9:00 pm daylight saving time.

Jupiter is too close to the horizon for good telescopic views (apparently the southern equatorial belt is back).

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.

The Globe at Night global light pollution survey is open to all people, whever they live. This year the survey is from 21 February to 6 March.

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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