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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday August 11 to Thursday August 18

The Full Moon is Sunday August 14. Jupiter is high in the morning sky. Mars close to stars in Gemini. Saturn is low in the western evening sky. Comet C/2009 P1 Garrad is visible in binoculars in the northern sky.

Morning sky looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am local time on Saturday August 13 showing the Mars and the constellations. Mars is close to the open cluster M35. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The Full Moon is Sunday August 14.

In the morning Jupiter is high above the north-eastern sky. Mars is low in the eastern sky, in the constellation of Gemini. Mars forms and attractive triangle with some of the moderately bright stars (Propus and Tejat). By the end of the week it is close to Mebsuta (eta Geminorium).

Bright white Venus and swift Mercury are now lost in the twilight glow.

Evening sky on Saturday August 13 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 8:00 pm local time in South Australia showing the Moon, and Saturn in the early evening sky. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mercury is lost in the twilight glow.

Saturn is readily visible as the bright yellowish object not far from the bright star Spica. It is getting lower in the sky, and the window for telescopic observation is narrower.

In this short timespan, even in small telescopes you can see Saturn's rings and it's moon Titan. Despite being past opposition, when Saturn was at its biggest, Saturn is still big and beautiful.

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 location of Vesta as seen at 9:00 pm on August 13 looking east from Adelaide, similar views will be seen at equivalent local times elsewhere. Click to embiggen,

The asteroid Vesta is becoming brighter and is now readily visible in binoculars and is just over the threshold of unaided eye visibility (magnitude 5.7). To see it with the unaided eye you will need to be in a dark sky location though.

Vesta starts the week close to the relatively bright star 24 Capricorni, making it very easy to find. 24 Capricorni is the fifth star up and to the right of the brightest star in Capricornus (see image to left). It then heads further up the sky towards another relatively bright star Phi Capricorni.

Mid-week bright moonlight will interfere with your ability to see Vesta, although it should remain visible in good binoculars.

Vesta moves significantly night to night, so will be easy to follow. A chart showing Vesta's location is here.

The location of Comet C/2009 Garrad as seen at 9:00 pm August 14 looking north from Adelaide, similar views will be seen at equivalent local times elsewhere. Click to embiggen,

Comet C/2009 Garrad is now visible in binoculars in the northern sky, in the constellation of Delphinus, the Dolphin. It is only a fuzzy dot, and will be hard to locate under suburban skies. So if you have dark skies it is well worth watching. However, mid-week bright moonlight will make it difficult to see the comet.

A chart showing C/2009 P1's location is here.

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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