Tuesday, December 30, 2014
The Sky This Week - Thursday January 1 to Thursday January 8
The Full Moon is Monday January 5. Earth is at perihelion, closest to the Sun, on the 4th.
Mercury is low in the twilight, not far from Venus.
Venus is now easy to see low on the western horizon in the twilight. At civil twilight, half an hour after sunset, it is over a hand-span above the horizon. While Venus is bright you will still need a reasonably flat, clear horizon to see it.
Mercury is just below Venus, the two are at their closest next week on the 11th.
Mars is still easily seen low in the western evening sky, setting around 11:00 pm daylight saving time. 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.
Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky.
Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky, and 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).
Jupiter is now high enough for good telescopic observation before astronomical twilight. Jupiter's Moons will be putting on a good display, and there is transit of Callisto on the 8th.
Jupiter enters the evening sky just before 11 pm daylight saving time, but is still best observed in the morning.
C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy is brightening in the sky. The comet is passing above Orion and Rigel heading towards Taurus.
It is brightest on January 11, but is easily visible in binoculars now and people in dark sky sites have been able to see it with the unaided eye. Binoculars or small telescopes show it as a definite fuzzy patch about a quarter of the size of the Moon. Instructions on viewing the comet and printable finding charts can be found here.
By the end of the week the brightening Moon will make it difficult to see, unaided eye views may be impossible.
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with the comet brightening rapidly 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