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Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The Sky This Week - Thursday May 21 to Thursday May 28

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday May 26. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky. Jupiter is the brightest object in the evening sky once Venus has set. It is visited by the crescent Moon on the 24t. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion and is easily visible in the evening. Comet C/2015 G2 MASTER is visible in binoculars in the evening.

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday May 26. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 27th.

Early evening sky on Sunday May 24 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing Venus,  Jupiter and the crescent Moon. Jupiter is the brightest object above the north-western horizon once Venus has set. (click to embiggen).

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Mars  is lost in the twilight.

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 draws closer to the stars Castor and Pollux, heading for a meeting with Jupiter later next month.
 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, Venus and Pollux form a line in the sky. On the 24th the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter.

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 before 11 pm, 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 May 23 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible above the horizon in the head of the Scorpion. The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. (click to embiggen).

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  19:00, it is best for telescope observation from around 21:00 into the morning hours.

The evening sky at 18:55 (6:55 pm ACST) looking west as seen from Adelaide on 23 May.  The location of comet C/2015 G2 MASTER is shown with a circle. You will need binoculars to see it. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at equivalent local times. (click on image to embiggen).

Comet C/2015 G2 MASTER is climbing in the evening sky fading as it goes. It should be just below magnitude 6,  but with the waxing Moon nearby it is best viewed with binoculars and telescopes. In binoculars and modest telescopes the comet will be a fuzzy blob, high power  telescopes may show the thin tail seen in astrophotographs, although the Moon makes that unlikley.

The comet will move up through Canis Major towards Canis Minor this week. A spotters map suitable for printing in black and white is here.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Jupiter, Venus and Saturn in the 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.  


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