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Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday October 31 to Thursday November 7

The New Moon is Sunday November 3. Mars and Jupiter are prominent in the early morning. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky in the heart of the Milky Way. It is visible late into the night in the heart of the galaxy, and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 7th. Comet C/2012 S1 ISON possibly visible in binoculars not far from Mars.

The New Moon is Sunday November 3. Moon is at perigee on the 6th.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 pm ACDST  on Thursday November 7. Venus is quite high in the evening sky in the heart of the Milky Way. The insets shows the telescopic view of Venus. 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 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) when the sky is fully dark.

On November 1 Venus is at its greatest distance from the Sun.

Venus moves from the constellation Ophiuchus to the Constellation of Sagittarius. It is a distinct half moon shape in even small telescopes. This week Venus is in the heart of the Milky Way, and passes with binocular distance of the beautiful cluster M21 and the Lagoon and Triffid nebulas between the 3rd-6th.

On the 7th the crescent Moon is not far from Venus.

Mercury  is lost in  the twilight.

Saturn is lost in the twilight.

Morning sky on Saturday October 26. looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am ACST in South Australia. Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is to the right of Mars, and visible in amateur telescopes and possibly binoculars. The inset shows the view of Jupiter through a telescope at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

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 near the bright star Regulus and continues to draw away during the week. Mars is also not far from comet C/2012 S1 ISON.

Jupiter is now well above the north-eastern horizon near the bright stars Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini. It is quite easy to see in the morning sky well into the twilight.  Jupiter's Moons are now readily visible in binoculars.

Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is continuing to brighten.

On November 1 ISON crosses Earth's orbit (although Earth will be over an AU from it at the time)

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) on November 3rd at Nautical twilight. ISON is close to Sigma Leonis at this time.

The comet most recently been reported somewhere around magnitude 8.5-9.5, the bright Moon being close to ISON makes  magnitude estimation hard.

The comet should is on line to be visible in smaller telescopes such as 4" reflectors and strong binoculars under dark skies by the 1st, when the Moon is no longer a problem. You can get a PDF map suitable for printing here.

The comet is  to the right of Mars, theoretically making finding it relatively easy,on the 3rd it is close to the moderately bright star Sigma Leonis.

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 AEDST, Western sky at 10 pm AEDST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


Thanks again, Ian for your posts.
When you write that Venus reaches its maximum distance from the Sun, is that maximum visual separation ?
I'm guessing so as I am expecting that to be soon given how high in the sky it is !
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