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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday February 19 to Thursday February 26

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday February 26. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky and is close to Mars between the 20th to the 24th. Jupiter is the brightest object in the late evening sky. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion. Mercury is prominent in the morning sky .

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday February 26.

Evening sky on Saturday February 21 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:30 (8:30 pm) ACDST in South Australia.  Mars is low in the twilight, with Venus below it. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Venus is easy to see low above the western horizon in the twilight. At civil twilight, half an hour after sunset, it is around one and a half hand-spans above the horizon. Venus is also just below Mars. Between the 20th and 24th the pair are less than a finger-width apart

Mars  is still seen low in the western evening sky, setting just before 9:30 pm daylight saving time (just before twilight ends). Mars is becoming harder and harder to see as it lowers deeper into the twilight, and you may need binoculars to pick it up.

As the week goes on Mars and Venus approach each other, the pair will be closest on the 22nd when they are half a finger-width apart.

Evening sky on Saturday February 21 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST showing Jupiter.  The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at 22:00 on the 21st. Jupiter is the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon. (click to embiggen).

 Jupiter  is now easily seen  in the late evening sky. It is the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon when twilight ends. It is not far from the bright star Regulus in the sickle of Leo (this forms the head of the constellation of the  Lion).

Jupiter was  at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest in our sky, on the 7th, but it will be an excellent object for may weeks to come.  Jupiter is visible all night and is high enough for decent telescopic observation from around 10 pm, although its visibility will improve in the coming weeks. Jupiter's Moons will be putting on a good display in both binoculars and small telescopes. On the 21st Io and its shadow transits the face of Jupiter from around the end of twilight for about an hour.

Morning sky on Sunday February 22 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am ACDST .   Mercury is below the asterism of the teapot. (click to embiggen).

Saturn climbs still higher in the morning sky. It is now easily visible before twilight near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion not far from the bright red star Antares. The sight of the distinctive constellation of the Scorpion curled above the horizon, with bright Saturn in its head, is very nice indeed.

Mercury climbs hight in the morning twilight and should be reasonably easy to see a hand-span above the horizon an hour before sunrise under the Teapot of Sagittarius.
 
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Jupiter just past opposition. 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.

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