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Tuesday, August 20, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday August 22 to Thursday August 29

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday August 28. Mars and Jupiter are prominent in the early morning. Mars will not be as big as the Moon on August 27, that's a hoax. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky and climbs towards the bright star Spica. Saturn is  not far above Venus. Bright (easily binocular visible) Nova in Delphinus.

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday August 28.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 pm local time on Saturday August 24. Venus is quite high in the evening sky heading for Spica. Venus, Spica, Saturn and Arcturus form a kite-shaped pattern in the evening sky. The insets show the telescopic views of the planets at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times.  Click to embiggen.

Venus  climbs higher in the evening twilight. It can easily be seen 20 minutes after sunset. The brightest (spectacularly so) object above the western horizon it is visible up to two hours or more after sunset (depending on how flat your western horizon is).

Venus climbs higher in the sky and approaches the bright star Spica. Venus, Spica, Saturn and the star Arcturus form a kite shape in the evening sky

Saturn is easily visible above the western horizon in the early evening in the constellation of Virgo. This is still a good time to view this planet in a small telescope, as there will be the little interference from horizon murk and air turbulence until somewhat later in the evening (and you can show the kids before they go to bed). Saturn sets around 11 pm local time.

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 a while. The sight of this ringed world is always amazing.

Morning sky on Sunday August 25 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am local time in South Australia. Mars, Jupiter, and Procyon form a triangle in the morning sky. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars, Jupiter and the bright star Procyon start the week forming a triangle in the morning twilight.  Jupiter and Mars are passing through the constellation Gemini, towards the end of the week Mars is also close to the bright star Pollux.

Mars rises only a little higher in the morning twilight, but is now reasonably visible before the sky pales substantially.

The Mars Hoax is with us again. Despite what you may have heard on the internet, Mars will not be as big as the full Moon on August the 27th. This hoax has been going around since 2003, when Mars was closest to the Earth. Full details here.

Jupiter is now well above the north-eastern horizon, above and to the left of Mars. It is quite easy to see in the morning sky well into the twilight. During the week Jupiter rises higher and continues to move away from Mars.
Mercury  is lost to view.

Location of Nova Delphinus 2013 as seen looking north from Adelaide at 10:00 pm local time.The location is marked with a square. Similar views will be seen at the equivalent local time in other Southern Hemisphere locations. Click to embiggen.

Nova Delphinus is magnitude 5, fading slowly from its peak of 4.4. It will probably remain above magnitude 6 for several days, possibly even having mini-outbursts. It is bright enough to be seen faintly with the unaided eye from dark sky locations, and best seen with binoculars. A printable binocular map and telescopic coordinates are here

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Venus and 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

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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