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Tuesday, October 16, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday October 18 to Thursday October 25

The First Quarter Moon is Monday October 22. Mars comes close to the bright red star Antares in the Scorpion on the 22nd as well. Mercury rises higher in the western evening sky. The thin crescent Moon is near Mars on the 18th. Jupiter is visible in the late evening sky. In the morning skies Jupiter and Venus can be readily seen amongst some beautiful constellations. The Orionid meteor shower is best seen on the morning of the 22nd.

Morning sky on Monday October 22 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 3:00 am local daylight saving time in South Australia. The cross marks the position o the Orionid radiant. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The First Quarter Moon is Monday October 22.

Jupiter is easily seen above the northern horizon in the early morning sky. Jupiter is below the Hyades, between the red star Aldebaran and the dimmer blue white star Elnath. Jupiter stays in roughly the same position for most of the week.

Jupiter is now seen in the late evening sky, rising shortly before midnight. 

On the 20th, starting at 2:58 am AEDST, there is a nice series of transits and shadow transits of Jupiters Moons, with the great red spot in sight.

Jupiter, Aldebaran and the red star Betelgeuse in Orion form a long triangle in the sky. With the Pleiades cluster and the constellation of Orion close by, this is a beautiful morning sight. 

Bright white Venus is still moderately  high above the eastern horizon, but continues sinking lower over the week. Venus looks like a waxing Moon when seen through even a small telescope.

Venus starts the week in  the constellation of  Leo, but finsishes it in the constellation of Virgo. Venus is now relatively low to the horizon, but still clearly visible in twlight skies, but will become harder to see over the coming weeks. It will still be bright, but hard to see from cluttered horizons.

The Orionid Meteor shower peaks on the morning of October 22  in Australia, the radiant for the Orionids rises around 1 am on October 23, with the best meteor viewing being between 3:00 am and 4:00 am. You can expect to see roughly a meteor every 5 minutes or so under dark skies.

As the name suggest, the meteors will seem to originate just below Orion. Allow several minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and be patent, it may take ages for a meteor to turn up, then you may see a few in a row.

You can use the Meteor Flux Estimator to predict the number of meteors you might see at your location. Choose 8 Orionids, and make sure the date is 2011 and you have DST on if you are in daylight saving zones.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 8:30 pm local daylight time on Wednesday October 18. Mars is in the head of the scorpion, coming close to Antare sand the crescent Moon. Mercury is below. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.

Saturn is lost in the twilight.

Mercury is rapidly brightening and  rapidly rising in the sky. This will be the best time to see the swift inner planet in the evening this year. It is currently the brightest object just above the western horizon towards the end of twilight.

Over the week Mercury rises towards the head of the Scorpion..

Mars continues to move through Scorpius. Mars is third brightest object in the western sky (after Mercury and the red star Antares, which is just a little brighter than Mars). Mars's distinctive red colour makes it relatively easy to spot, just don't confuse it with red Antares above it. On the 22nd Mars is at it's closest to Antares.

Mars sets shortly after 11:00 pm local daylight saving timetime.

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.

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.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.


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