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Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday February 23 to Thursday March 1

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday March 1. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky close to Jupiter. Jupiter dominates the evening sky in the north-west once Venus has set. On the 25th, 26th and 27th the thin crescent Moon is near Venus and Jupiter, making a delightful sight. Mars is in the late eastern evening sky, not far from Saturn, which is near the star Spica.

Evening sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 11:00 pm local daylight saving time on Saturday February 26 showing Mars and Saturn near Spica. 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 First Quarter Moon is Thursday March 1.

Mars is in the constellation of Leo.

Mars is in the eastern sky late in the evening, rising around 9:00 pm (local daylight saving time), although it is still highest in the early morning. Mars continues to brightens rapidly.

Saturn is above the north- eastern horizon, not far from the bright star Spica. Saturn is high enough in the northern sky in the early morning for telescopic observation, but is rising about 11:00 pm local daylight saving time.

Mercury is lost in twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday February 26 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 8:30 pm local daylight saving time in South Australia showing Venus in Pisces, with Jupiter not far away and the crescent Moon in between them. 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 and continues to come closer to Jupiter. The pair are quite easy to see together. The Moon visits them this week to make quite a nice sight. On the 25th of February the thing crescent Moon is juts below Venus. On the 26th it is between Venus and Jupiter, then on the 27th the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter.

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 object. 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.

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 - 10 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.

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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