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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday February 2 to Thursday February 9

The Full Moon is Wednesday February 8. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky . Jupiter dominates the evening sky in the north-west once Venus has set. Mars enters the evening sky, but is best visible in the morning sky heading towards Saturn, which is near the star Spica. The Moon occults the star eta Geminorum on the late evening of Saturday the 4th.

Morning sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 2:00 am local daylight saving time on Sunday February 5 showing Mars and Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. The inset shows the telescopic appearance of Saturn and it's Moons at this time. Click to embiggen.

The Full Moon is Wednesday February 8.

Mars is high in the northern morning sky. After a brief sojourn in the constellation of Virgo, Mars reverses direction and re-enters the constellation of Leo.

Mars has now entered the evening sky, rising around 10 pm (local daylight saving time), but will be relatively low above the late evening horizon for the rest of the week.

Saturn is above the north- eastern horizon, not far from the bright star Spica. Saturn is now high enough in sky in the early morning for telescopic observation.

Mercury is now lost in morning twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday February 4 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 9:00 pm local daylight saving time in South Australia showing Venus in Aquarius, with Jupiter not far away. The insets shows the appearance of Venus and Jupiter and its Moons as seen telescopically at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen)

Bright white Venus is readily visible in the evening western twilight sky from around half an hour after sunset for somewhat over an hour and a half.

Venus is in Aquarius this week. It is almost on top of Uranus on the 9th. You will need binoculars to see Uranus, Venus may drown the planet out with its brightness.

Jupiter was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on Saturday the 29th of October.

However, Jupiter is still a great binocular and telescope object and will be for many weeks to come. Jupiter is visible for most of the night in the north-western sky, setting half an hour after midnight.

In the evening Jupiter is readily visible in the northern-western sky, from about twilight. It is coming closer to Venus, and the pair look very nice in the western evening sky.

Now is a still good time for telescopic observation of this massive world (although the window for observation is narrowing), or follow its moons in binoculars. For good telescopic observation Jupiter is best from 9 pm - 11 pm.

Although Jupiter is the most prominent now, 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 evening sky facing North in Adelaide on February 4 at 11:30 pm AEDST showing the waxing Moon about to cover eta Geminorum (indicated by circle). (similar views will be seen from other cities at the equivalent local time eg 11:30 pm ACDST Adelaide.

The nearly full Moon passes in front of the moderately bright star Tejat Prior (eta Geminorium, magnitude 3.5) on the evening of Saturday February 4-Morning Sunday February 5.

The dark limb of the Moon covers the star at 23:38 pm ACDST Adleaide (4th), 0:06 am AEDST Hobart (5th), 0:11 am AEDST Melbourne (5th) and 20:00 pm AWST Perth (4th). The Star will reappear on the bright side of the Moon at 0:13 am ACDST Adleaide (5th), 0:59 am AEDST Hobart (5th), 0:52 am AEDST Melbourne (5th) and 21:00 pm AWST Perth (4th).

With the Moon close to full, this event is really best seen with binoculars or a small telescope. Picking up the stars reappearance will be quite difficult against the brightness of the Moon.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEDST, Western sky at 10 pm AEDST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch (this will be up dated to February a little later).

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.


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