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Monday, August 13, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday August 16 to Thursday August 23

The New Moon is Saturday August 18. Mars, Saturn and the star Spica form a triangle in the western sky. This grouping is visited by the waxing Moon on the 22nd. In the morning skies Jupiter and Venus can be readily seen.

Morning sky on Sunday August 19 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am local time in South Australia. Jupiter below the Hyades not far from Venus, making a long triangle with the red star Betelgeuse.The Pleiades cluster is close by. The right  inset shows the telescopic view of Venus. The left inset shows the location of the Moons of Jupiter at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The New Moon is Saturday August 18 (17 in WA).

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and is now easy to see. Jupiter is below the Hyades over the week.

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

Jupiter's Moons are a delight anytime, but on the morning of the 19th. Once more Jupiter's satellites play hide and seek with an eclipse of Io and a transit of Europa. Well worth a look in even a small telescope.

Bright white Venus is the highest it will be above the horizon for the rest of the year. Venus looks like a half Moon when seen through even a small telescope.

Jupiter, Venus and the red star Betelgeuse in Orion form a long triangle in the sky.

Mercury is low in the twilight.It will be enormously difficult to see unless you have a flat level horizon like the sea.

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 sets shortly after 10:30 pm local time. On Wednesday 22 August the crescent 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 west as seen from Adelaide at 9:00 pm local time on Wednesday August 22. Mars, Venus Saturn and the bright star Spica form a triangle. The crescent Moon joins the triangle very close to Mars. (Hat tip again to Dean male for finding the typo). 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 still high enough in the northern sky for telescopic observation in the early evening. Saturn was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on the 16th of April, but now is still a good time for telescopic views of this ringed world in the early evening.

Mars, Saturn and the bright white star Spica from an attractive triangle in the evening sky at the beginning of the week. Over the week, the triangle becomes larger as Mars moves away from Saturn and Spica. On Wednesday 22 August the crescent Moon is close to Mars in this triangle.

With Saturn still modestly high in the sky in te early evening, 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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