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Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday March 22 to Thursday March 29

The New Moon is Friday March 23. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky close to Jupiter. The thin crescent Moon joins the pair between 25-27 March, and is between them on the 26th. 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 10:00 pm local daylight saving time on Saturday March 24 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 New Moon is Friday March 23.

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 6:00 pm (local daylight saving time), and is at its highest in the northern sky around midnight.

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 8:30 pm local daylight saving time.

Mercury is lost in twilight.

Evening sky on Monday March 26 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 thin crescent Moon can be seen between Venus and Jupiter. 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. Between the 25thh and the 27th the thin crescent Moon visits the pair. On the 26th, the Moon is between them, making a very nice sight. Venus is also coming closer to the beautiful Pleiades cluster.

Telescopic observation of Jupiter are now very difficult.

However, Jupiter is still a great binocular object. Jupiter is visible until around 8 pm local daylight saving time.

With Mars just past 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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