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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday February 7 to Thursday February 14

The New Moon is Sunday February 10. Jupiter is prominent in the evening sky. Saturn is visible high in the morning sky. Venus is low on the horizon and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 9th. Comet C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) continues to brighten and comes close to the Small Magellanic cloud. Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS may be visible in the evening twilight.


Morning sky on Sunday February 10 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 3:00 am local daylight saving time in South Australia. The inset shows a telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The New Moon is Sunday February 10.

Saturn is now readily visible above the north-eastern horizon before dawn. Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky, becoming easier to see.  Saturn rises shortly after midnight, so it is high enough to be worthwhile in a small telescope in the pre-dawn dark. Saturn is in the constellation of Libra.

Mercury  is lost in the twilight.


Morning sky on Saturday February 9 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:56 am local daylight saving time in South Australia (about 3/4 of an hour before dawn). Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Bright white Venus is now quite low above the eastern horizon, really only visible half an hour before sunrise and hard to see from cluttered horizons. Venus is visited by the crescent Moon on the morning of Saturday the 9th.

Venus spends the week in Capricornius.

Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS  is brightening, and is visible in telescopes and  binoculars, but is rapidly washed out by the advancing twilight.

By the 14th the comet may be visible in the evening twilight to the east. The comet appears to be brightening more slowly than predicted, and it is not clear how bright it will be when it appears in the evening. To have a chance to see the comet you will need a fairly level, clear horizon like the ocean, and watch carefully as the twilight deepens. Binoculars may be needed to see it. For detailed viewing instructions see here.

In late February this may be a good unaided eye comet.


Evening sky looking North as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 pm local daylight saving time on Wednesday February 13. The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.

Jupiter is visible for most of the night, and is the brightest object in the evening sky. Despite opposition having just passed on the December the 3rd 2012, Jupiter is prominent in the northern early evening sky, being quite visible in the twilight. Jupiter is below the Hyades, near the red star Aldebaran. Jupiter remains near Aldebaran during the week, making it look as if the Bull has two eyes.

Jupiter, Aldebaran and the white star Rigel in Orion form a long line in the sky. With the Pleiades cluster and the constellation of Orion close by, this is a beautiful sight.

Jupiter is easily seen in the late evening sky, rising around 4:00 pm local daylight saving time and is highest in the north by 9:00 pm. Now is a perfect time to observe Jupiter with a telescope of any size in the evening. Jupiters' Moons are easily seen in binoculars, and can be followed from night to night changing position.

On the 13th Io and its shadow transits Jupiter.

Mars is lost in the twilight.



Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon'slocation as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST on Thursday 14 February. The location of the bright globular cluster 47 Tucanae is indicated.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand at equivalent local times.  (click to embiggen).

Comet  C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) is a nice little binocular comet. The best view of this visit occurs then week when the comet will pass close to the Small Magellanic Cloud on February 14-15.

 It is brightening rapidly, and is visible to the unaided eye in dark sky locations. You will need to use binoculars in suburban locations though, and to see it at its best you need a telescope or binoculars.

For charts, printable spotters maps and observing hints, see this page.

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, seeSouthern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

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Comments:
I saw a fuzz ball - just not sure whether it was 47 Tuc or Lemmon!
 
Location of C/2012 F6 on 14th Jan or 14th Feb?? ;-)
 
G'Day Cynthia, if it was a faint fuz ball near the south celestial pole, it was the comet. If it was a large bright fuzzball, it was 47 Tucanae.
 
Carl, Ta for the heads up, fixed now.
 
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