Thursday, July 03, 2014
The Sky This Week - Thursday July 3 to Thursday July 10
The First Quarter Moon is Saturday July 5. Earth is at aphelion, its furthest from the Sun, on the 4th.
Jupiter is low to the horizon during twilight . Jupiter sets around 18:30, and this will be the last week we can see it before it is lost in the twilight.
Mars is easily seen in the northern and north-western evening sky. It is highest in the sky around 18:40. 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 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 6th, Mars, Spica and the waxing Moon form a nice triangle (see chart below).
Saturn is rising higher in the evening sky, and was at opposition on June 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 line with the two brightest stars of Libra, its apex pointing towards the head of the Scorpion.
Saturn is close to the waxing Moon on the 8th.
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 Venus draws away from the "A" shaped Hyades cluster that forms the head of the Bull. Soon Venus is almost directy under Aldebaran.
Mercury has returned to the morning sky. This week it rises swiftly towards Venus, brightening as it goes. While Mercury is nowhere near as bright as Venus, it is the brightest object below Venus, and by the end of the week Mercury is very obvious and almost a hand-span from Venus.
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