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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday August 13 to Thursday August 20

The New Moon is Saturday August 14. Venus is lost in the twilight. This is the last week to see Jupiter before it disappears below the horizon. Mercury is close to the Moon on the 16th. Saturn is near the head of the Scorpion. Perseid meteor shower 13th-14th.

The New Moon is Saturday August 14. The Moon at apogee,(furthest from the Earth) on the 18th.

Early evening sky on Sunday August 16 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing Mercury and the thin crescent Moon.
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mercury climbs higher into the evening sky, abandoning Venus and Jupiter. On the 16th, the thin crescent Moon joins Mercury, both will be readily visible in the late twilight sky. You will need a fairly level, unobstructed horizon to see them at their best.

Venus is lost in the twilight.

Jupiter  is also becoming harder to see in the early evening twilight sky and is lost in the twilight by around mid-week.

Evening sky on Saturday August 15 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible high above the western horizon  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 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 19:00 until shortly after midnight. At 18:30 Saturn is at it's highest above the northern horizon near the zenith (with Saturn facing west). By 22:00 Saturn is high above the western horizon. This is also a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail.




Early morning sky on Sunday August 16 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:15 ACST showing Mars just above the horizon.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars  is low the morning skies this week.  While it is climbing out of the twilight it still requires binoculars to see effectively.









Perseid radiant as seen from Darwin at 5:00 am local time, August the 13th, looking north.

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks on the morning of Wednesday August 13 between 11am am-midnight AEST (01:30h to 14h on August 13 UT). The best time to observe is on the mornings of the 13th and 14th between 4 am to 5 am AEST when the shower radiant is highest above the horizon.

Despite this being a quite reasonable meteor shower in the Northern Hemisphere, for most of Australia and a large chunk of the Southern Hemisphere the radiant is below the horizon, and only the very occasional meteor will be seen shooting up from the northern horizon.

Basically, anywhere south of the latitude of Brisbane (27.3 degrees South) will see few, if any, meteors under ideal conditions. This year, despite having Moonless skies, with  the peak occurring during local daylight hours,  the chance of anywhere in Australia seeing decent Perseids is low.
 
More detailed viewing instructions are here.
 
Meteor rates for your location can be checked with the Meteor Flux Estimator

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mercury 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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