Tuesday, October 15, 2013
The Sky This Week - Thursday October 17 to Thursday October 24
The Full Moon is Saturday October 19.
Venus climbs higher in the evening twilight. It can easily be seen shortly after sunset (indeed, with a little effort you can see it before sunset). The brightest (spectacularly so) object above the western horizon it is visible up to three hours or more after sunset (depending on how flat your western horizon is).
Venus starts the week close to the bright star Antares and continues its journey up the body of the Scorpion. It is a distinct gibbous shape in even small telescopes
Mercury is still easily visible in the evening twilight. Mercury is lower in the evening sky this week heading towards the horizon, but remains prominent for the rest of the week.
Saturn is still visible above the western horizon in the early evening twilight in the constellation of Virgo. Telescopic views of the ringed world are progressively harder as the planet gets lower in the sky and deeper in the twilight. Saturn sets around 9:00 pm local daylight saving time.
Jupiter is in the constellation Gemini. Mars is is in the constellation of Leo.
Mars rises still higher in the morning twilight, and is visible well before twilight. Mars starts the week close to the bright star Regulus and draws away during the week. Mars is closest to comet C/2012 S1 ISON on the 18th.
Jupiter is now well above the north-eastern horizon, above and well to to the left of Mars and near the birgt stars Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini. It is quite easy to see in the morning sky well into the twilight. During the week Jupiter rises higher and draws away from the moderately bright star Wassat. Jupiter's Moons are now readily visible in binoculars.
Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is expected to become very bright in late November Early December. Currently it is visible in modest amateur instruments such as 8" reflecting telescopes and has been imaged with DSLR cameras at high ISO values. The image to the left shows a high power view of the region around Mars with ISON (expanded from the unaided eye view above).
While the comet is currently around magnitude 10 and should be around 9 by the 18th October, it is never very high at Astronomical twilight (5 and 7 degrees above the horizon in most of Australia). The horizon murk means that that it will be mid October before the comet is visible in smaller telescopes such as 4" reflectors and late October for strong binoculars. You can get a PDF map suitable for printing here.
The comet is just below and to the right of Mars (56 arc seconds at closest approach on the 18th), making finding it relatively easy. Comet ISON was closest to Mars on October 1, but the orbital geometry means that from Earth it will appear closest on the 18th.
The Orionids are normally a worthwhile shower, best seen between 2-4 am, the radiant being just under Betelgueuse, the bright red star in Orion. This year the just past Full Moon's light will significantly lower rates. The best viewing is the morning of the 22nd, when between 3-5 am under dark skies you should see about a meteor every 5-10 minutes.
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Venus 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.
Labels: weekly sky
My nephew wants me to stay up all night just incase