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Wednesday, December 04, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday December 5 to Thursday December 12

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday December 10. Mars and Jupiter are prominent in the early morning. Saturn rises higher in the morning sky. Venus is easily visible late into the night in the western evening sky above the Teapot. It is not far from the Moon on the 5th and 6th. There is a bright Nova near Beta Centauri that is visible with the unaided eye.

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday December 10. 

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 pm ACDST  on Thursday December 5.  Venus is quite high in the evening sky above the Teapot asterism of Sagittarius.  The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times.  Click to embiggen.

Venus continues to fall back  in the evening twilight. However, 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 above the "Teapot" asterism of Sagittarius and is not far from the crescent Moon on December 5 and 6

Morning sky on Tuesday December 10 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 2:00 am ACDST in South Australia. The inset shows the view of Jupiter through a telescope at this time. Io and its shadow is transiting Jupiter 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  Virgo. Saturn and Mercury are in Libra.

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

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. There are some good Moon events on the10th at around 2 am local daylight saving time. Jupiter rises around 10:00 pm local daylight saving time, but is still best for telescopes in the early morning.

Morning sky on Sunday December 8 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. Both are roughly equidistant from the bright star SPica/ Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

 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.

Location of Nova Centaurus 2013 as seen looking north from Adelaide at 3:00 am ACDST local time.The location is marked with a square. Similar views will be seen at the equivalent local time in other Southern Hemisphere locations. Click to embiggen.

A new nova has been reported  near beta Centauri. It is currently bright enough (magnitude 5) to be seen faintly with the unaided eye, and very easily in binoculars. Unfortunately, you have to wait until early morning for the nova to be heigh enough for a good look.

More detailed spotters charts and instructions are 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 pmAEDST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


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