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Wednesday, July 09, 2014


The Sky This Week - Thursday July 10 to Thursday July 17

The Full Moon is Saturday July 12. Jupiter is lost in the twilight. Mars and Saturn are prominent in the evening sky. Mars is closest to Spica on the 13-14th. Venus is prominent in the morning sky, and is approached by rapidly brightening Mercury during the week. They are closest on the 16th

The Full Moon is Saturday July 12. The Moon is at Perigee, closest to Earth, on the 13th.

Evening sky on Sunday July 13 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mars and Spica are close together. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is lost in the twilight.

Mars  is easily seen in the northern and north-western evening sky. It is highest in the sky around 18:15, setting after midnight. 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 north-western horizon in the early evening. Mars is in the constellation of Virgo close 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.

On the 13th and 14th, Mars is at its closest to Spica, they look an attractive pair in the sky. 

Saturn is high in the evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible most of the night. Saturn is high enough from around 8 pm for decent telescopic observation and sets around 2:30 am.  Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a line with the two brightest stars of Libra.

Morning sky on Wednesday July 16 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am ACST.  Venus forms a triangle with the bright red stars Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. Mercury is at its closest with Venus. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at equivalent local times. (click to embiggen).

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. Venus forms a triangle with the bright red stars Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. During the week Venus comes closer to the horizon, and the rapidly climbing Mercury.

Mercury rises higher in the morning sky. This week it rises swiftly towards Venus, brightening as it goes. Mercury is at its highest above the horizon on the 13th. While Mercury is nowhere near as bright as Venus, it is clearly the brightest object below Venus. On the 16th Mercury and Venus are at their closest.

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.


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