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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday April 5 to Thursday April 12

The Full Moon is Saturday April 7. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky close to the Pleiades cluster. Jupiter is very close to the horizon and becomes more difficult to see. Mars is in the eastern evening sky, not far from the bright Star Regulus. Saturn is in the late evening eastern sky near the star Spica. On the 7th the Moon is close to Saturn and Spica. Mercury returns to the morning sky

Evening sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 7:30 pm local time on Saturday April 7 showing Mars, Regulus and the Moon forming a triangle with Saturn and 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 Full Moon is Saturday April 7.

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 before sunset and is at its highest in the northern sky around midnight.

Mars moves closer to the bright star Regulus in Leo.

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 north-eastern sky for telescopic observation in the late evening, rising before 7 pm local time. Saturn will be at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, next week, but is still a great target now.

Mercury is now visible above the eastern horizon by 5:30 am in the morning. As the week progresses it will climb higher in the morning sky.

Evening sky on Saturday April 7 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 pm local time in South Australia showing Venus next to the Pleiades cluster and Jupiter nearby. 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 is readily visible in the evening western twilight sky from around half an hour after sunset for around an hour and a half.

Venus continues to pass through Taurus this week and is draws further away from Jupiter.

Observation of Jupiter is now very difficult. Jupiter is very low to the horizon, and is quickly lost in the twilight.

With Mars past opposition and Saturn rising and coming closer to opposition, 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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