Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The Sky This Week - Thursday November 14 to Thursday November 21
The Full Moon is Monday November 18.
Venus slowly falls back 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 still visible up to three hours or more after sunset (depending on how flat your western horizon is) when the sky is fully dark. Venus is beginning to sink to the horizon, but will be spectacular for many weeks hence.
Venus is in the Constellation of Sagittarius. It is a distinct crescent moon shape in even small telescopes. This week Venus crosses the "Teapot" asterism of Sagittarius. On November 14-16 Venus is within binocular distance of the bright globular cluster M22. On November 16 Venus is close to the bright star Phi Sagittarii in the handle of the Teapot, then on the 19th Venus is so close to the bright star Nunki that you may be unable to separate them with the unaided eye.
Mercury is lost in the twilight.
Saturn is lost in the twilight.
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 to the right of 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 northern 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/2013 R1 Lovejoy is easily visible in binoculars in the constellation of Leo, just under the sickle of Leo. It is just on the threshold of unaided eye brightness and may become brighter still. It is putting on a better spectacle than comet ISON. Unfortunately it is now low to the horizon at nautical twilight, an hour before sunrise, and will disappear into the twilight after the 18th.
You can get a PDF map of the location of comet Lovejoy suitable for printing here.
Morning sky on Monday November 18 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACST in South Australia. Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is right next to SPica, and visible in amateur telescopes and possibly binoculars
Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is continuing to brighten. It is well past the orbit of Venus now, on its final leg of its journey to the sun.
However it is brightening much more slowly than expected. It should have been visible to the unaided eye by now, but it is still well below this threshold.
Currently it is visible in modest amateur instruments such as 8" reflecting telescopes, it looks quite nice. European and Australian observers have seen it with 10x50 binoculars from Dark sky sites.
The comet continues to move through Virgo, passing close to bright stars that can help locate it.
On the 14th it is to the right of and within binocular distance of the bright star Porrima. On the 16th it is within binocular distance of Theta Viriginis and then on the 18th and 19th it is right next to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in Virgo. After this, if the comet has not brightened significantly then it will be lost to view in the twilight.
The image above shows a high power view of the region around Porrima and Spica with ISON (expanded from the unaided eye view shown above) on November 18th at Nautical twilight. ISON is close to Spica at this time.
The comet most recently been reported somewhere around magnitude 8.0.
You can get a PDF map suitable for printing here.
The Leonid meteor shower peaks on the morning of the 18th. With the combination of the full Moon and low predicted rates this year, you will be lucky to see anything. A spotters chart is here.
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.
Labels: weekly sky