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Monday, January 27, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday January 30 to Thursday February 6

The New Moon is Friday January 31. Jupiter is the brightest object in the evening sky, visible all night. Mars is prominent in the early morning. Saturn rises higher in the morning sky. Venus reappears low in the morning sky. Nova Centauri still visible.

The New Moon  is Friday January 31. The Moon is at perigee, closest to the Earth, on January 30.


Evening sky on Friday February looking north  as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 pm ACDST in South Australia. The inset shows the view of Jupiter through a telescope at this time. Europa and Callisto's shadows are on Jupiter, and Europa has just recently exited the face of Jupiter  Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is in the constellation Gemini. It is the brightest object in the evening sky. Jupiter was at opposition on the 6th of January, when it was brightest and closest to Earth, but will remain bright and easily observable in telescopes for several months.

Jupiter
rises around 19:00 pm local daylight saving time, and is highest just before midnight. It is high enough to observe telescopically in the mid to late evening.  

In the early evening it is above the north-eastern horizon near the bright stars Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini. Jupiter is quite easy to see as the brightest object in the entire sky.  Jupiter's Moons are readily visible in binoculars. 

February 6 has an interesting patten of Jovian Moons, with Europa just coming off the face of Jupiter, while the shadows of Europa and Callisto remain on Jupiter.

Morning sky on Sunday February 2 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACDST in South Australia. Mars is near the bright star Spica, Saturn is  near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion.  Crescent Venus is just above the horizon. The insets show telescopic views at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


Venus is in the morning sky,  low above the eastern horizon.  It will be difficult to see without a clear level horizon. Venus rises progressively higher during the week, and is a distinct crescent shape.

Mars rises still higher in the morning sky, and is visible well before twilight. Mars is is in the constellation of Virgo near the bright star Spica.

 Saturn is visible above the eastern horizon before dawn. Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion.  It is  high enough in the early morning for decent telescopic observation.
 
Mercury  is lost in the twilight.


Location of Nova Centauri 2013 as seen looking north from Adelaide at 11:00 pm 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.

V1369 Centauri, Nova Centauri 2013 near beta Centauri keeps on keeping on. Now that the Moon has gone from the evening sky is still bright enough (magnitude 5.5-6 as I type, it has been undergoing a series of outbursts) to be seen faintly with the unaided eye, and very easily in binoculars. It is one of the brightest nova known, and over 50 days later it is still interesting to follow, maybe there will be another bright outburst, although there has not been an outburst for a while. The nova is now high enough in the evening sky from around 11 pm on 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 pm AEDST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

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