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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday April 16 to Thursday April 23

This is Global Astronomy Month. The New Moon is Sunday April 19. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky. The crescent Moon, Venus and the red star Aldebaran form a triangle in the 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.

The New Moon is Sunday April 19.

Evening sky on Tuesday April 21 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 (6:30 pm) ACST in South Australia.  Venus is obvious in the early evening sky and forms a triangle with the crescent Moon and the bright star Aldebaran. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Venus is easy to see above the western horizon in the twilight. At nautical twilight, an hour after sunset, it is around two hand-spans above the horizon, and still visible at astronomical twilight.

During the week Venus heads towards the Hyades cluster and Aldebaran. Venus and Aldebaran are closest on the 19th. On the 21st and the 22nd the pair are joined by the crescent Moon, making an attractive triangle on these nights. The 21st is not quite the "Night of the Smiley Fritz" but will still look rather anthropomorphic.

Mars  is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday April 18 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST showing Jupiter.  The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at this time. Ganymede is about to come out from behind Jupiter at this time. Jupiter is the brightest object above the north-western horizon once Venus has set. (click to embiggen).

 Jupiter  is easily seen  in the evening sky. It is the brightest object above the northern horizon when twilight ends, and continues into the north-western 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 many weeks to come.  Jupiter is visible for most of the night, setting around 1 am, and is high enough for telescopic observation once twilight is over. Jupiter's Moons will be putting on a good display in both binoculars and small telescopes.

Evening sky on Saturday April 18 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST.  Saturn is now easily visible above the horizon. The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. (click to embiggen).

Saturn is now easily visible around 10pm 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.

While Saturn is  readily visible from around 22:00, it is best for telescope observation from around 23:00 into the morning hours.

Mercury re-enters the western evening sky, but 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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