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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

 

The Sky This Week -September 15 to Thursday September 22

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday September 20. Jupiter appears in the evening sky and is close to the Moon on the 15th and 16th. Mars is visible in the morning sky. 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 5:30 am local time on Sunday September 18 showing Mars, the brighter stars and the location of comet 45P Honda. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday September 20.

In the morning Jupiter is high above the north-western sky. Now is a good time to begin telescopic observation of this massive world, or follow its moons in binoculars.

Jupiter is visible in the evening sky, from about 11 pm local time on. However, for good telescopic observation Jupiter is best from 2-4 am. The waning Moon visits Jupiter on Thursday the 15th and Friday the 16th.

Mars is low in the eastern sky, in the constellation of Gemini. At the beginning of the week Mars forms a rough line with the bright stars Castor and Pollux.

Bright white Venus is still lost in the twilight glow, returning to the evening sky later this month.

Mercury is lost in the twilight glow.

Comet 45P Honda enters the morning sky, but will be very hard to see in the twilight sky without a decent telescope.

Evening sky on Thursday September 16 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 11:00 pm local time in South Australia showing Jupiter in the late evening sky not far from the waning Moon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Saturn is still visible low in the westen sky as the bright yellowish object not far from the bright star Spica. It is now too low in the sky for successful telescopic observation.

Despite Saturns closeness to the horizon , there are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope.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 Saturday September 17 looking north-east from Adelaide, similar views will be seen at equivalent local times elsewhere. Click to embiggen,

The asteroid Vesta is well past opposition, but is still readily visible in binoculars and is just below the threshold of unaided eye visibility (magnitude 6.5).

Vesta starts the week above from the relatively bright star Phi Capricorni, making it very easy to find. During the week it stays roughly the same distance from Phi Capricorni. Early in the week bright Moonlight will make it difficult to see, but by the weekend you should have lots of dark viewing time.

Vesta is nearly at a stand still, so you may have to folow it for a few days to be sure. A chart showing Vesta's location is here.

The location of Comet C/2009 Garrad as seen at 8:00 pm Saturday September 17 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 Hercules.

Although it has brightened substantially, it is still only a fuzzy dot at magnitude 6.9. The best views will be under dark skies, where you might spy a short faint tail. The best viewing is around 8:00 pm, when the comet is almost due north and highest in the sky. Early in the week the comet will be hard to see due to Moonlight, but by the weekend the skies should be dark enough to pick it up easily.

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.

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