Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The Sky This Week - Thursday May 24 to Thursday May 31
Evening sky looking North as seen from Adelaide at7 :00 pm local time on Tuesday May 29 showing Mars, Regulus and the Moon. As well there is Saturn and Spica and comet Garradd. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. The inset shows the telescopic appearance of Saturn at this time. Click to embiggen.
The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday May 29.
Mars is in the constellation of Leo. It is the brightest object in the northern 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 7:00 pm local time.
Mars is not far from the bright star Regulus in Leo. However, it continues to move away over the week. On the 29th the First Quarter Moon is close to Mars.
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.
Saturn is above the northern horizon, not far from the bright star Spica. Saturn is high enough in the northern sky for telescopic observation in the evening, being highest at 9:30 pm local time. local time. Saturn was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on the 16th of April, but now is still a great time for telescopic views of this ringed world.
Comet C/2009 P1 Garrad is visible in the north-eastern sky. At magnitude 9, it is now observable only in telescopes . It's still relatively low to the horizon and the effects of light pollution means that the best views under dark sky conditions. By the end of the week the brightening Moon makes observation difficult.
Evening sky on Wednesday May 23 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 pm local time in South Australia showing Venus. 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 visible in the evening western twilight sky from around half an hour after sunset for about half an hour.
You will need a clear, level horizon (like the ocean) to see it at its best.
Venus remains in Taurus this week. It starts the week not far from the star Elnath, and doesn't move very far away.
Venus is now rapidly sinking towards the horizon, and this will be the last week it is reasonably easy to see. Venus is quite large, and a very thin crescent, the crescent shape can be seen even in strong binoculars. In two weeks tine Venus will cross the disk of the Sun in a rare transit, the last until 2117.
See my Transit Webpage for details of when the transit is, and how to view it.
Jupiter and Mercury are lost in the twilight.
With Mars past opposition and Saturn high in the sky, 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.
Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.
Labels: weekly sky