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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday July 19 to Thursday July 26

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday July 26. Mars is in the western evening sky closing in on Saturn. Saturn is visible near the star Spica in the north-western sky. On the 24th the waxing Moon is close to Mars on the 25th it forms a triangle with Spica and Saturn. In the morning skies Jupiter and Venus can be seen near each other forming a triangle with the red star Aldebaran. Mercury is visible low in the evening twilight, and is close to the Moon on the 20th.


Morning sky on Friday July 20  looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am local time in South Australia. 
Jupiter is near Venus in the Hyades, making a triangle with the red star Aldebaran.The the Pleiades cluster is close by. The left  inset shows the telescopic view of Venus. 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.


Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 6:15 pm local time on Friday July 20 showing Mercury above the horizon close to the one day old crescent Moon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.
 
The First Quarter Moon is Thursday July 26.


Mercury is low in the twilight evening sky this week. It is best seen with a flat, uncluttered horizon. On Friday there is a difficult to observe meeting with the day old crescent Moon, you will need a very clear horizon, like the ocean to see this. By the end of the week Mercury is lost in the twilight.

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 4:55 pm local time and sets shortly after 11:00 pm.

On Tuesday July 24 the waxing 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.

Evening sky looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 8:00 pm local time on Wednesday July 25 showing Saturn and Spica forming a triangle  with the Moon. Mars is nearby. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.

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 5:50 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.

On Wednesday July 25 the waxing Moon forms a triangle with Spica and Saturn.

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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