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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 5 to Thursday September 13

The First Quarter Moon is Friday September 13. Mars and Jupiter are prominent in the early morning. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky and is closest to the bright star Spica on the 6th. The crescent Moon visits Venus on the 8th.  Saturn is  not far above Venus.  On the 9th the Moon is between Venus and Saturn. The ISS visits the grouping on the 8th and 9th. Mercury returns to the evening sky. Nova in Delphinus is visible in binoculars.

The First Quarter Moon is Friday September 13.


Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:54 pm local time on Sunday September 8. Venus is quite high in the evening sky next to the bright star Spica. Venus, Spica, and the crescent Moon form a triangle in the evening sky. The ISS is passing just under Spica at this time. Similar views (except for the ISS, see below) 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. On the 6th, Venus is closest to Spica. On the 8th Venus, the bright star Spica, and the crescent Moon form a triangle in the evening sky. On the 9th the crescent Moon is between Venus and Saturn.


On the 8th and the 9th many places in Australia will see the International Space Station pass close to Venus. Details, links to prediction sites and viewing hints are here.


Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 pm local time on Friday September 6. Mercury and the crescent Moon are close together just above the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times.  Click to embiggen.
  
Mercury  returns to the evening sky this week. On the 6th Mercury and the thin crescent Moon are close together. This will be hard to see unless you have a clear level horizon.



As the week passes Mercury becomes easier to see as it rapidly climbs into the twilight sky.

Saturn is still 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, you can show the kids before they go to bed. Saturn sets around 10:00 pm local time.


The formation of Venus, Spica, Saturn and the crescent Moon on the 8th and the 9th will be beautiful to watch, on the 10th the waxing Moon forms a line with Saturn, Venus, Spica and Mercury (very low on the 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.

Neptune is currently at opposition, and visible in strong binoculars. Location maps here which can be used in conjunction with the printable PDF maps below. My images with a little point and shoot camera here

Morning sky on Sunday September 8 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 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 is in the constellation Gemini. Mars is passing through the constellation Cancer.


Mars rises only a little higher in the morning twilight, but is now reasonably visible before the sky pales substantially. Between Sunday September 8 and Tuesday September 10 Mars passes close to the Beehive cluster. On the 9th Mars is actually in front of the cluster. This is best viewed with binoculars or a small telescope on low power. .

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. On Sunday September 1 the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter.

Location of Nova Delphinus 2013 as seen looking north from Adelaide at 9:30 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 7, fading slowly from its peak of 4.4. It is visible only in binoculars or a small telescope, but may have brighter mini-outbursts. 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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