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Monday, May 06, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday May 9 to Thursday May 16

The New Moon is Friday May 10 and there is an annular solar eclipse on this day. Venus appears on the evening horizon and is near the crescent Moon on May 11. Jupiter is low in the early evening sky and is visited by the crescent Moon on May 12. Saturn is high in the evening skies. Mercury will return to the evening sky next week.

Annular Eclipse as seen from Tennant Creek at maximum eclipse, 8:48 am ACST on May 10.

The New Moon is Friday May 10.

On the morning of May 10, there will be an annular Solar eclipse. In an annular eclipse the Moon does not completely cover the Sun, and the Sun forms a thin ring around the Moon at maximum eclipse depth.

The annular eclipse will be seen from a thin strip in WA, the Northern Territory and remote far north Queensland.

Everywhere else will see a partial eclipse of varying depth, the north-east coast of Australia having the best views. The eclipse starts shortly after sunrise. In places along the annular eclipse path, such as Tennant Creek (NT) and Musgrave Roadhouse (QLD), viewers will see a thin rim of Sun around the moon.

Elsewhere viewers will see between 13% (Hobart) - 83% (Cairns) of the Sun covered by the Moon.

Detailed timings and observing hints are in this post.

Sky on Saturday May 11 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 local time in South Australia. The left inset shows a telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Saturn is now easily visible above the eastern horizon before midnight in the constellation of Libra. Saturn climbs higher in the evening sky during the week, becoming easier to see.

Saturn, Arcturus and Aldebaran from a broad triangle above the eastern horizon.

Opposition (when Saturn is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth) was on April 28. However, Saturn will be a worthwhile evening target for telescopes of any size for several months. The sight of this ringed world is always amazing.

Mercury  is lost in the twilight, but will return to the evening skies next week.

Mars is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 17:50 pm local time on Sunday May 12. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times indicated here.  Click to embiggen.

Bright white Venus returns to the evening twilight. It is very difficult to see initially, as it is quite close to the horizon, and you need a clear, level horizon like the ocean to pick it out. On the 11th Venus is close to the crescent Moon.
Jupiter is visible low in the early evening and rapidly descends into the twilight, heading towards a rendezvous with Venus and Mercury. Jupiter is setting progressively earlier, by 7:06 pm local time, so the giant world is now not really possible to follow in a telescope. However, with Venus and later on Mercury near it, it is well worth watching

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Saturn so prominent in the sky.  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. Especially during the school holidays.

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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