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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The Sky This Week - Thursday March 31 to Thursday April 7

The New Moon is Monday April 4. Venus is visible in the morning sky initially in the constellation of Aquarius. On the 31st of March and 1st of April the crescent Moon is close to Venus. Mars is visible below Venus in the early morning. Saturn is well placed for telescopic observation in the evening and is biggest and brightest on the 4th of April.

Morning sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am daylight saving time on Friday April 1 showing Venus in Aquarius, not far from the crescent Moon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The New Moon is Monday April 4.

Bright white Venus is readily seen in the early morning sky. This week it is in Aquarius.

On the 31st of March and the 1st of April Venus is close to the crescent Moon.

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

Evening sky on Monday April 4 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 10:00 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 24t (and on the morning of the 25nd), you will need a fairly large telescope to see any moon other than Titan. Click to embiggen

Saturn is rising with sunset, and is visible all night long. It is high enough for telescopic observation in the late evening. It readily visible as the bright yellowish object 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. Saturn is at opposition on April 4th, this is when Saturn will be at its biggest and brightest. While opposition is on the 4th, Saturn will be big and beautiful for many weeks to come.

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 asteroid Vesta is quite faint (magnitude 7.6), so you need binoculars to see it and may need to watch over a number of nights to make sure you are seeing it. Currently Vest is not near anything interesting. Vesta is brightening and will be (just) visible to the unaided eye in a few months time.

Mars on April 1st at 7:00 pm local daylight saving time.

Mars returns to the morning sky by the 31st, faintly visible low in the eastern twilight.

Mercury is too close to the Sun to be seen.

Jupiter is too close to the Sun to be seen.

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.


Visited Southern Hemisphere for first time last week. FAQ about early evening sky: There seemed to be a remote 'island' of milky way stars west of the Southern Cross... I have never seen such a thing. Was it indeed an island of milky way, or was I seeing things? Thank you. dwellsokc@cox.net
It's one or other of the Magellanic clouds, dwarf satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. See here for a quick map. They are pretty cool.

For some southern hemisphere guides with maps, see my page Southern Skywatch.
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