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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday August 25 to Thursday September 1

The New Moon is Monday August 29. Jupiter is high in the morning sky. Mars is visited by the thin crescent Moon on the 25th. Mercury enters the morning sky and is close to the thin crescent Moon on August 28. Saturn is low in the western evening sky and visited by the Moon August 31. 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 Thursday August 25 showing the Moon, Mars, Mercury and the constellations. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The New Moon is Monday August 29.

In the morning Jupiter is high above the north-eastern sky.

Mars is low in the eastern sky, in the constellation of Gemini. Mars starts the week not far from the relatively bright star Mebsuta (eta Geminorium) and heads towards the star Wasat. On the 25th Mars is close to the thin Crescent Moon.

Bright white Venus is still lost in the twilight glow.

Mercury enters the morning skies, but is still quite close to the horizon, on Sunday August 28 the thin crescent Moon is close to Mercury, although you will need a clear level horizon to see it.

Evening sky on Wednesday August31 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 7:00 pm local time in South Australia showing Saturn in the early evening sky not far form the crescent Moon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

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.

On Wednesday August 31 the Crescent Moon is not far from Mars.

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 8:00 pm on August 27 looking east from Adelaide, similar views will be seen at equivalent local times elsewhere. Click to embiggen,

The asteroid Vesta is now past opposition, but is still readily visible in binoculars and is just over the threshold of unaided eye visibility (magnitude 5.9). 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 Phi Capricornii, making it very easy to find. During the week it gets even closer to Phi Capricorni.

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 Saturday August 27 looking north from Adelaide, similar views will be seen at equivalent local times elsewhere. Click to embiggen,

Comet C/2009 Garrad is visible in binoculars in the northern sky, in the constellation of Sagitta, the Arrow.

Although it has brightened substantially, it is still only a fuzzy dot at magnitude 7. The best views will be under dark skies, where you might spy a short faint tail. The best viewing is around 10:30 pm, when the comet is almost due north and highest in the sky. During the week the comet will be in binocular range of a number of clusters, including M71.

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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