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Tuesday, July 14, 2015


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

The New Moon is Thursday July 16. Venus is brilliant in the twilight evening sky with bright Jupiter below it. On the 18th and 19th the crescent Moon is close to the pair.  On the 19th a daytime occultation of Venus is seen in north-eastern Australia. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion and is easily visible in the evening. Mercury is lost to view. The crescent Moon is close to the red star Aldebaran on the 13th.

The New Moon is Thursday July 16. 

Mercury is  lost in the twilight.

Early evening sky on Saturday July 18 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing the Moon, Venus and  Jupiter close together. The inset shows the binocular view of the two at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

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 four hand-spans above the horizon, and still visible at astronomical twilight. Venus is a distinct crescent shape in even small telescopes.

Venus and the bright star Regulus are close, with Jupiter below making a shallow triangle in the sky.  on the 18th and 19t the crescent Moon joins the trio.

The Moon at 9:52 am AEST  in  Brisbane on Sunday June 19 just  as Venus appears from behind the Moon. Similar views will be seen at equivalent times elsewhere in north-eastern Australia.

On the 19th in daylight, Venus is occulted by the Moon as seen from north-eastern Australia. From Alice Spings Venus emerges from behind the Moon at 9:19 am ACST. This is very close to the horizon.

In Brisbane, Venus goes behind the Moon at 9:31 am AEST and emerges at 9:52 am AEST. Similar timings will occur for Rockhampton (9:12 am start, 9:57 am finish ), Townsville (8:52 am start, 9:54 am finish) and Cairns (8:53 am start, 9:53 am finish) and places in between.

The Sun is nearby, so only experienced observers should attempt this observation, making sure the Sun is obscured behind something big. Be VERY careful not to accidently view the Su though you telescope of binoculars, sever eye damage or blindness may result. Venus will be the brightest object near the Moon, but will only be visible in binoculars or a small telescope. Start watching about half an hour before hand to get set up and familiar with the sky.

Jupiter  is easily seen  in the early evening sky near Venus in the north-western sky. It is also near the bright star Regulus in the sickle of Leo (this forms the head of the constellation of the  Lion). Jupiter and Venus are close at the start of the week, and move further apart as the week goes on.  (see Venus description above).

Jupiter is visible in the early evening, setting just before 8:00 pm. It is high enough for telescopic observation once twilight is over, and there is a narrow window of about 2 hours before it is too close to the horizon for telescopic viewing. Jupiter's Moons will be putting on a good display in both binoculars and small telescopes.

Evening sky on Saturday July 18 looking at the zenith while facing west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible high above the western horizon near the zenith near the head of the Scorpion. The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Saturn is now easily visible from 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 across the zenith, with bright Saturn close to its head, is very nice indeed.

While Saturn is  readily visible from the end of twilight, it is best for telescope observation from around 20:00 into the early morning hours. At 22:00 it is at it's highest above the northern horizon near the zenith (with Saturn facing west). This is also a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail.

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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