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Tuesday, December 24, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday December 26 to Thursday January 2

The New Moon is Wednesday January 1. Mars is prominent in the early morning. Saturn rises higher in the morning sky. The Moon is close to Saturn on December the 29th. Venus is visible low in the western evening sky and is close to the crescent Moon on the 2nd. Jupiter is visible in the evening sky.

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday December 25. The Moon is at perigee on the January 2.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 pm ACDST  on Saturday December 21.  Venus is the early evening sky.  The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times.  Click to embiggen.

Venus falls further into the evening twilight. This will be the last week to see this fleet world before it disappears into the twilight.  However, for most of the week it can easily be seen shortly after sunset (indeed, with a little effort you can see it before sunset) until late twilight.

The brightest (spectacularly so) object above the western horizon it is still visible up to an hour after sunset at the beginning of the week (depending on how flat your western horizon is) when the sky is fully dark. Venus is continuing to sink to the horizon, and this will be the last week to see it before it disappears into the twilight. On the 2nd Venus and the Moon are close together, but you will need a flat level horizon (like the sea) to see them shortly after sunset.

Venus is a distinct, wire thin crescent moon shape in even small telescopes and even binoculars now.

Evening sky on Saturday December 28 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 pm ACDST in South Australia. The inset shows the view of Jupiter through a telescope at this time. The Moon is close to Jupiter. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is in the constellation Gemini.

rises around 9:00 pm local daylight saving time, but is still best for telescopes in the early morning. In the morning it 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.

Morning sky on Sunday December 29 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACDST in South Australia. Mars is high above the horizon, Saturn is low above the horizon. The waning Moon is close to Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars is is in the constellation of  Virgo. Saturn is in Libra.

Mars rises still higher in the morning twilight, and is visible well before twilight.  

 Saturn is visible low in the eastern horizon before dawn. It will be difficult to see unless you have a flat, level horizon.

Mercury  is lost in the twilight.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope.  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 pmAEDST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


Thanks for the very useful roundup.
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