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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday April 2 to Thursday April 9

This is Global Astronomy Month. The Full Moon is Saturday April 4, there is a total lunar eclipse at this time. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky. Mars is lost in the twilight. Jupiter is the brightest object in the evening sky once Venus has set. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion and now visible in the evening. Mercury is lost to view. Daylight savings ends on Sunday morning.

North-Eastern horizon as seen from Adelaide on  4 April at 10:24 pm ACDST. The total eclipse has just begun . Click to embiggen

The Full Moon is Saturday April 4, there is a total lunar eclipse at this time. The partial phase of the eclipse begins at 9:15 pm AEDST (8:45 pm ACDST and 6:15 pm AWST) with totality around one and a half  to one and three quarter hours later. This is the last total eclipse seen from Australia until 2018.  Full details for observing the eclipse are here, and hints on photographing the eclipse here.


Evening sky on Saturday April 4 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 (8:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia.  Venus is obvious in the twilight and is heading towards the Pleiades. 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. During the week Venus heads towards the beautiful Pleiades cluster, it will be at its closest next week..

Mars  is low in the western twilight sky and is effectively lost to view.

Evening sky on Saturday April 4 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST showing Jupiter.  The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at this time. Jupiter is the brightest object above the northern horizon. (click to embiggen).

 Jupiter  is now easily seen  in the evening sky. It is the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon when twilight ends, and continues into the northern sky as the night goes on. It is between the bright star Regulus in the sickle of Leo (this forms the head of the constellation of the  Lion) and Pollux in Cancer. It is also not far from the rather nice Beehive cluster in Cancer, and looks very good in binoculars.

Jupiter was  at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest in our sky, on 7 February, 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. Jupiter's Moons will be putting on a good display in both binoculars and small telescopes.

Evening sky on Saturday April 4 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACDST .  Saturn is now visible above the horizon. (click to embiggen).

Saturn climbs still higher in the morning sky. It is now easily visible before midnight  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.

Saturn is  readily visible from around 23:00, but is still best after midnight.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

This is Global Astronomy Month. See the Astronomers Without Borders site for a rundown of what's on. 
 
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Jupiter just past opposition and Saturn rising. 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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