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Tuesday, August 06, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday August 8 to Thursday August 15

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday August 14. Mars and Jupiter are more prominent in the morning twilight. Venus is readily visible in the evening twilight and close to the bright star Beta Virginis on 14th. The crescent Moon visits Venus on the 10th. Saturn is in the western evening sky and is visited by the Moon on the 13th. The Perseid meteor shower is visible from northern Australia on the morning of the 13th.

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday August 14. The waxing Moon is very close to Spica on the 12th.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 pm local time on Saturday August 10. Venus is quite high in the evening sky heading for Beta Viriginis. Venus, the Crescent Moon and Beta Virigins form a triangle in the evening sky. 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 and is now brilliantly visible up to an hour and a half after sunset.

Venus comes closer to Beta Viriginis as it climbs higher in the sky. On the 10th the crescent Moon, Venus and Beta Virginis (whose delightful other name is Zavijava) form a triangle in the evening sky

Saturn is easily visible above the western horizon in the early evening in the constellation of Virgo. On Tuesday 13 August the waxing Moon is close to Saturn. This is still 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).

Saturn, Arcturus and Spica form a long triangle above the 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 a while. The sight of this ringed world is always amazing.

Morning sky on Sunday August 11 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am local time in South Australia. Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury form a line in the morning sky. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars rises only a little higher in the morning twilight.

Mars, Jupiter and Mercury start the week forming a line in the morning twilight.

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

Perseid radiant as seen from Darwin at 5:00 am local time, August the 13th, looking north. 

The Perseid Meteor Shower runs from July 17–August 24, and peaks on the morning of Tuesday August 13 between 4:15 am-6:45 am AEST (that's August 12, 18h15m to 20h45m UT). 

Despite this being a quite reasonable meteor shower in the northern hemisphere, for most of Australia the radiant is below the horizon, and only the very occasional meteor will be seen shooting up from the northern horizon. 
The best views are for latitudes north of  Brisbane. For detailed locations, meteor rates and viewing hints, see my Australian Perseids page.

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

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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