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Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday March 15 to Thursday March 22

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday March 15. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky close to Jupiter. Venus and Jupiter were at their closest on March 14, and are now moving apart. 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 March 17 showing Mars, and Saturn near Spica. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. The inset shows the telescopic appearance of Mars, Saturn and it's Moons at this time. Click to embiggen.

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday March 15.

Mars is in the constellation of Leo. It is the brightest object in the north eastern sky, and its distinctive red colour makes it easy to spot. Mars is rising around 8:00 pm (local daylight saving time), and is at its highest around 1 am.

Mars was at opposition on March 4, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. Sadly, this is a poor opposition and Mars will be fairly small in modest telescopes. Even so, you should be still able to see the polar caps, so still have a go if you have a telescope.

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 10:00 pm local daylight saving time.

Mercury is lost in twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday March 17 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 8:00 pm local daylight saving time in South Australia showing Venus and Jupiter not far from the Pleiades cluster. The inset shows the appearance of Venus seen telescopically at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen)

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

Venus is in Aries this week and still close to Jupiter. The pair are quite easy to see together but now draw apart.

In the evening Jupiter is readily visible in the northern-western sky, from about twilight. Telescopic observation of Jupiter is now very difficult.

However, Jupiter is still a great binocular object. Jupiter is visible until around 9 pm local daylight saving time.

With Mars at opposition and Saturn rising, 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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