Tuesday, June 17, 2014
The Sky This Week - Thursday June 19 to Thursday June 26
The Last Quarter Moon is Friday June 20. The Earth is at Solstice on June 21, when the night is the longest in the Southern hemisphere.
At 6:00 pm if you have a level horizon free of obstructions, you can see three bright planets strung out across the sky, Jupiter just above the horizon, Mars high in the northern sky and Saturn above the eastern horizon.
Mercury has disappeared into the twilight.
Jupiter is low to the horizon when twilight ends. Jupiter sets around 19:00, telescopic observation is not really worthwhile now.
In the early evening Jupiter is above the north-western horizon between the bright stars Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini, and the bright red star Betelgeuse. Jupiter is quite easy to see as the brightest object above the western horizon in the early evening. In the early evening the sight of bright Jupiter sinking to the west, and bright Mars (still not as bright as Jupiter though) to the north and Saturn rising in the east is quite beautiful.
Jupiter's Moons are readily visible in binoculars.
Mars is easily seen in the northern and north-western evening sky. It is highest in the sky around 19:00. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest, on the 9th of April, and is still readily distinguishable as the bright red/orange object above the northern horizon in the early evening. Mars is in the constellation of Virgo near the brightish star Porrima, and is slowly coming closer to the bright star Spica. Mars is still worthwhile looking at in a telescope now, although you will need a decent one to see any detail.
Saturn is rising higher in the evening sky, and was at opposition on the 11th. Saturn is visible all night long. Saturn is high enough from around 10 pm for decent telescopic observation (see below). Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a shallow triangle with the two brightest stars of Libra, its apex pointing towards the head of the Scorpion.
Venus is in the morning sky, above the north-eastern horizon. The brightest object in the morning sky, it is easy to see and although it is past maximum brightness, it will dominate the early morning sky for some time to come.
Venus was at its furthest distance from the Sun on the 23rd of March, and is slowly sinking towards the horizon. Venus is a clear gibbous Moon shape in a telescope. During the week the shaped Hyades cluster that forms the head of the Bull rises to meet Venus. By mid week Venus is roughly between the bright unaided-eye clusters the Pleiades and the A-shaped Hyades, which houses the bright red star Aldebaran. on the 24th the crescent Moon and Venus are close, and on the 25th the crescent Moon is in between Venus and Aldebaran.
Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars and Venus and Saturn 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 AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.
Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.
Labels: weekly sky