Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The Sky This Week - Thursday April 23 to Thursday April 30
The First Quarter Moon is Sunday April 26. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from Earth, on the 29th.
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 away from the Hyades cluster and Aldebaran towards the stars Castor and Pollux, heading for a meeting with Jupiter later next month..
Mars is lost in the twilight.
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 just after midnight, 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.
Saturn is now easily visible around 9 pm 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 21:00, it is best for telescope observation from around 22:00 into the morning hours.
Mercury is low in the western evening sky, but is difficult to see in the twilight.
The Lyrids, the debris of comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher) are a weak but reliable shower that occurs every year between April 16- April 25, with the peak this year around 24 hrs UT on April 22 .
That's around 10 am 23 April in east coast Australia, but as the radiant doesn't rise until 1 am, the best time to view the Lyrids in Australia is from 4 am on the 23rd.
The predicted ZHR this year is 18 meteors per hour. This means that under ideal conditions, you will see a meteor on average about once every three minutes. This can be as interesting as watching paint dry. Also, while that meteor every three minutes is the average, meteors are like buses, you wait for ages and then a whole bunch turn up. In Australia, the rate is even less, around 6 meteors an hour in Northern Australia. For southern Australia, the rate is even lower.
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.
Labels: weekly sky