Wednesday, December 03, 2014
The Sky This Week - Thursday December 4 to Thursday December 11
The Full Moon is Saturday December 6.
Venus is very difficult to see low on the western horizon in the twilight. At civil twilight, half an hour after sunset, it is a mere 3 finger-widths above the horizon. While Venus is bright it might be possible to see not long after sunset, but you will need a flat, clear horizon like the ocean to see it.
Mars is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting just before 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 Capricornius. On the 4th it will be in binocular range of the faint globular cluster M75.
Saturn is lost in the twilight.
Mercury is lost in the twilight.
Jupiter rises higher in the morning sky, and now is easy to see above the horizon before twilight. Jupiter is the brightest object above the northern horizon. It is now not far from the bright star Regulus in the sickle of Leo (this forms the head of the constellation of the Lion).
It is now high enough for good telescopic observation before astronomical twilight. On Thursday December 11 Jupiter is near the waning Moon.
C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy is brightening in the sky much faster than expected. The comet is passing below the star Canopus heading towards Orion, passing above Canis Major. It is brightest in January, but should be easily visible in binoculars in the second half of the month after the Moon leaves the evening sky. Binoculars or small telescopes should show it as a small fuzzy patch with maybe the hint of a tail. A B and W printable spotters map is available here , the large circle is the approximate field of view of 10x50 binoculars.
At magnitude 8.0 you will need to let your eyes adapt to darkness to see the comet clearly.
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars 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 AEDST. 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