Tuesday, October 07, 2014
The Sky This Week - Thursday October 9 to Thursday October 16
The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday October 16.
Mercury rapidly heads towards the horizon in the evening sky. It is still relatively easy to see around half an hour after sunset in the first half of the week, but by the end of the week it is lost in the twilight.
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 in the constellation of Sagittarius, leaving Scorpius behind. It continues to draw away from the red star Antares (which means rival of Mars) as it heads towards the star clouds of Sagittarius. Mars forms a somewhat battered line with Antares and Saturn.
Saturn is in the early western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible in the early evening, setting around 10 pm local time. Saturn is still high enough from twilight for decent telescopic observation for a short while.
Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a battered line with Mars and Antares.
Comet C/2013 V5 has passed perihelion and is still surviving. It is visible in medium sized or larger telescopes as it rises higher into darker skies. When the Moon leaves the early evening sky in the latter part of the week it will be easier to see, although low to the horizon when the sky is full dark.
Venus is lost in the glare of the Sun.
Jupiter rises higher in the morning twilight, and now is easy to see above the horizon at twilight. During the week Jupiter climbs higher and becomes easier to see as the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon.
Comet C/2012 K1 Panstarrs is rising higher in the morning sky but early in the week bright Moonlight will make it difficult to see. By the end of the week it should be visible in 10x50 binoculars as a fuzzy dot with a stubby tail.
Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is high in the the evening sky, and is now in the tail of the Scorpion. At magnitude 8 it is now only visible in a medium sized telescope or larger. The comet is located in a beautiful patch of sky, passing through some rich stellar fields. However, it will be hard to see until the Moon wanes. A printable black and white chart suitable for binoculars is here. The large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. On the 9th the comet is next to M6, the Butterfly Cluster (see inset).
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