Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The Sky This Week - Thursday November 21 to Thursday November 28
The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday November 26. The Moon is at apogee on the 22nd.
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) until late in the evening.
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 is still crossing the "Teapot" asterism of Sagittarius and is in the handle of the teapot.
This week sees many bright passes of the International Space Station, some quite close to Venus (such as the one illustrated above). Some of the passes are spectacularly close. On the 22nd at 22:22 ACDST the ISS is almost on top of Venus as seen from Adelaide.From Sydney, the ISS is almost on top of Venus on the 24th at 21:18 AEDST. ISS passes are HIGHLY location dependent, so you need to go to http://www.heavens-above.com/ for predictions for your local area.
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.The crescent Moon is close to Mars on the 28th.
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. Jupiter rises around 10:30 pm local daylight saving time, but is best for telescopes in thhe early morning. On the evenings of the 21st and 22nd (mornings of 22nd and 23rd) the waning Moon is close to Jupiter.
Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy is no longer visible.
Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is in outburst at the moment. This is the final leg of its journey to the Sun, on the 23rd it passes the orbit of Mercury and on the 28th it skims over the Sun a a bit over a solar diameter away.
Despite it being around magnitude 5, it is currently it is visible in modest amateur instruments such as 6" reflecting telescopes, it looks quite nice. European observers have seen it as a faint fuzzy dot. Australian observers in Brisbane and places to the north have seen it with 10x50 binoculars from dark sky sites, even photographed it with DSLR cameras. Those of us to the south have had no luck with binoculars at all.
The comet continues to move through Virgo, but there is no longer any good guide stars nearby to help you find it. Unless the comet brightens substantially, it will be lost to view in the twilight for most Australians. On the 28th, it is at it's closest approach to the Sun. If the comet survives it will hopefully produce a nice spectacle for the northern hemisphere observers.
The image above shows a high power view of the region around ISON (expanded from the unaided eye view shown above) on November 23rd at Nautical twilight. ISON is close to the horizon at this time.
The comet most recently been reported somewhere around magnitude 5.0.
You can get a PDF map suitable for printing 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