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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday July 12 to Thursday July 19

The New Moon is Thursday July 19. Mars is in the western evening sky closing in on Saturn. Saturn is visible near the star Spica in the north-western sky. In the morning skies Jupiter and Venus can be seen near each other, The Moon visits Jupiter and Venus on the 15th and 16th. Mercury is visible low in the evening twilight.


Morning sky on Sunday July 15  looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am local time in South Australia. 
Jupiter is near Venus in the Hyades, making a line with the red star Aldebaran.The the Pleiades cluster is close by. The left  inset shows the telescopic view of Venus. The right insert shows the locations of the asteroids Vesta and Ceres at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and is now easy to see. Jupiter moves closer to the Hyades over the week. Jupiter and Venus form a triangle with the red star Aldebaran.

With the Pleiades cluster and the constellation of Orion close by, this is a beautiful morning sight.

Bright white Venus climbs higher above the horizon this week. Venus is an obvious crescent seen through even a small telescope.

On July 15 the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter, forming a line with Venus. On the 16th the crescent Moon is below Venus, forming a triangle with Venus and Jupiter, and a line with Venus and Aldebaran.

If you are interested, the bright asteroids Vesta and Ceres are nearby (see inset above). Although at magnitudes 8,4 and 9 respectively, you will needs a pair of strong binoculars or a small telescope under dark skies to see them. The Dawn spacecraft is currently at Vesta, and will soon depart for Ceres.


Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 pm local time on Saturday July 14 showing Mercury above the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.
 
The New Moon is Thursday July 19.


Mercury is still high in the evening sky this week. It is still best seen with a flat, uncluttered horizon. 

Mars is in the constellation of Virgo. It's brightest object in the north-western sky, and its distinctive red colour makes it easy to spot. Mars is at its highest in the northern sky around 5:05 pm local time and sets shortly after 11:30 pm.

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-western 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 6:10 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 in the early evening.

With Saturn still reasonably 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 AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

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