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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday May 3 to Thursday May 10

The Full Moon is Sunday May 6. Venus is visible in the low in the western evening sky close to the star Elnath. Jupiter is lost in the twilight . Mars is in the eastern evening sky, close to the bright Star Regulus. Saturn is visible the whole night long near the star Spica. On the 4th the Moon forms a triangle with Saturn and Spica. Mercury is visible in the morning sky.

Evening sky looking North as seen from Adelaide at 8:00 pm local time on Friday May 4 showing Mars, Regulus, Saturn and 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 Full Moon is Sunday May 6. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to Earth, at this time.

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 8 pm.

Mars is close to the bright star Regulus in Leo. However, it moves away over the week.

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 north-eastern horizon, not far from the bright star Spica. Saturn is high enough in the northern sky for telescopic observation in the late evening, rising before 6 pm 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.

Morning sky on Sunday May 6 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am local time in South Australia. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen)

Mercury is now visible above the eastern horizon by 5:30 am in the morning.

Mercury is sinking towards the horizon, but is still easily visible this week.




Evening sky on Saturday May 5 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 pm local time in South Australia showing Venus near the Star Elnath. 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 around an hour.

Venus continues to pass through Taurus this week. It comes close to the star Elnath, and is closest on the 7th, when Venus becomes one of the tips of the horns of the Bull.

Venus is slowly sinking towards the horizon, and will become more difficult to see. It is a distinct crescent in even small telescopes now.


Jupiter is 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.

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