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Tuesday, July 03, 2012


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

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday July 11. Mars is in the western evening sky. Saturn is visible near the star Spica in the northern sky. In the morning skies Jupiter and Venus can be seen near each other, Venus comes close to the red star Aldebaran. Mercury is  visible low in the evening twilight. Earth is at aphelion on the 5th.

Morning sky on Sunday July 8  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 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. It is now easy to see. Jupiter moves towards  the Hyades over the week. Jupiter is within a hand span of  Venus for most of the week. Jupiter and Venus form a straight line 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. Venus travels through "A" shaped Hyades cluster, and makes a line with the bright red star Aldebaran and Jupiter. Between 8 and 11 July Venus is within a finger-width of Aldebaran, being closest on the 9th.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 pm local time on Saturday July 7 showing Mercury above the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.
The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday July 11. Earth is at aphelion, when t is furthest from the Sun, on the 5th.

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 5:20 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 6:40 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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