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Tuesday, February 07, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday February 9 to Thursday February 16

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday February 15. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky. Jupiter dominates the evening sky in the north-west once Venus has set. Mars is in the eastern evening sky, not far from Saturn, which is near the star Spica. On the 10th the waning Moon is near Mars, and on the 12th it is close to Saturn.

Evening sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 11:30 am local daylight saving time on Sunday February 12 showing Mars and Saturn, with the Moon very close to 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 Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday February 15.

Mars is in the constellation of Leo.

Mars is in the eastern sky late in the evening, rising around 9:30 pm (local daylight saving time), although it is still highest in the early morning. Mars brightens rapidly this week. The Moon is close to Mars on the 10th.

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

On the 12th, Saturn is close to the waning Moon, which is less than half a fingerwidth from the bright star Spica.

Mercury is now lost in morning twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday February 11 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 closest to Uranus on the 10th. 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 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. 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 - 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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