Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Sky This Week - Thursday August 14 to Thursday August 21
The Last Quarter Moon is Sunday August 17.
Mars is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting around 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 western horizon in the early evening.
Mars is now in the constellation of Libra forming a line with the broad double star Alpha Librae and Saturn. Over the week it draws towards Saturn and Alpha Librae, and is very close by the 21st. Mars will be at its closest to Saturn next week.
Saturn is in the early north-western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible most of the evening. Saturn is high enough from twilight for decent telescopic observation and sets shortly after midnight.
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. It also forms a line with Alpha Librae (also called Zubenelgenubi ) and Mars. By the 21st Mars and Saturn will be close.
The inset shows a simulation of the binocular view of these two worlds. 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 early morning sky, it is rapidly heading towards horizon, and becomes more difficult to see the twilight.
Venus was at its furthest distance from the Sun on the 23rd of March, and is now rapidly sinking further into the twilight, becoming quite difficult to see. During the week Venus comes closer to Jupiter, although you will need a clear, level horizon to see them in the twilight glow.
On the 18th Venus and Jupiter are at their closest, and may be difficult to distinguish with the unaided eye. Although low in the twilight, if you have a flat horizon (like the ocean or dessert), you should be able to see them close together in binoculars. Be very careful of the rising sun though.
Jupiter it rises higher in the morning twilight, but will difficult to see without a clear level horizon. During the week Jupiter comes closer to Venus.
Mercury returns to the evening sky by the end of the week, and can be seen low above the western horizon, it will become more prominent next week..
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars and Saturn prominent in the early evening 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