Tuesday, July 02, 2013
The Sky This Week - Thursday July 4 to Thursday July 11
The New Moon is Monday July 8. Earth is at aphelion, when it is furthest from the Sun, on July 5th.
Mercury is now lost to sight in the twilight, and is at inferior conjunction on the 10th. It will return to the morning skies later this month.
Venus climbs higher in the evening twilight. It can easily be seen 20 minutes after sunset and is now brilliantly visible up to an hour and a half after sunset.
On the 3rd and 4th Venus is close to the Beehive cluster, but there is only a short time in the twilight when it is dark enough to see the cluster in binoculars, and when the cluster is too close to the horizon to see through the murk.
On the 10th the Moon is below Venus, and on the 11th it is above it, making a fine evening sight.
Saturn is easily visible above the northern horizon in the early evening in the constellation of Virgo. By 10 pm local time it is high above the northern-western horizon and very easy to see.This is an excellent time to view this planet in a small telescope, as there will be the little interference from horizon murk and air turbulence (and you can show the kids before they go to bed). At the start of the week Saturn is less than half a finger-width from the dim star Kappa Virginis, but leaves it behind as the week progresses.
Saturn, Arcturus and Spica from a broad triangle above the northern-western 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.
Mars rises in the morning twilight, but will still be best if you have a flat, clear horizon. It forms a triangle with two red giant stars, Aldebaran and Betelgeuse.
On the 6th the crescent Moon is above Mars.
Jupiter is now just peeking above the north-eastern horizon, you really need a flat, unobstructed eastern horizon to see it. On the 7th the crescent Moon is between Mars and Jupiter.
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.
Labels: weekly sky