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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday February 27 to Thursday March 6

The New Moon is Saturday March 1. Jupiter is the brightest object in the evening sky, visible all evening. Mars is prominent in the early morning but is visible in the evening sky. Saturn rises higher in the morning sky. Venus is bright in the morning sky and is near the crescent Moon on the 27th. Mercury enters the morning sky and is close to the crescent Moon on the 28th. The asteroids Vesta and Pallas visible in binoculars.

The New Moon is Saturday March 1. The Moon is at Perigee, closest to the Earth, on Friday February 28.

Evening sky on Saturday March 1 looking north  as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 pm ACDST in South Australia. Jupiter is above the northern horizon. The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at 22:00 pm when Europa is just coming out from behind 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 16:30 pm local daylight saving time, and is highest just before 21:30 pm local daylight saving time. It is high enough to begin observing telescopically in the early to mid evening.

In the early evening it is above the northern 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. On Saturday evening Europa exits from behind Jupiter.

Mars rises around 22:00 pm, but is still best seen when high in the morning sky, and is visible well before twilight. Mars is is in the constellation of Virgo near the bright star Spica.


Morning sky on Friday February 28 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:45 am ACDST in South Australia.  Crescent Venus is well above the horizon. The crescent Moon is close to Mercury low on the horizon. The inset show the telescopic view at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


Venus is in the morning sky, above the eastern horizon.  The brightest object in the morning sky, it is now easy to see in the morning twilight, and although it is past maximum brightness, it will dominate the morning sky for some months to come.  Venus rises progressively higher during the week, and is a distinct crescent shape. On the 27th the crescent Moon is below Venus.

 Saturn is now entering the evening sky, but is still best visible high above the north-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  returns to the morning sky. It is low to the horizon in the dawn sky, and on the 28th it is close to the thin crescent Moon.

Evening sky on Saturday March 1 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:30 pm ACDST in South Australia. The asteroid Vesta is just below Mars, and easily visible in binoculars.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Two bright asteroids are now visible in binoculars in the evening sky. 2 Pallas and 4 Vesta. Later in March Vest will become bright enough to be just visible to the unaided eye win dark sky locations.While Vesta is esily seen in binoculars, you will need to watch the same patch of sky in binoculars for a couple of nights to identify it by its movement.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Jupiter and 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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