Wednesday, August 05, 2015
The Sky This Week - Thursday August 6 to Thursday August 13
The Last Quarter Moon is Friday August 7.
Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).
Mercury climbs from the twilight into the evening sky, heading for Jupiter. The pair and Regulus will be less than a finger-width apart on the 7th. At this time Mercury and Jupiter fit into the low power field of a telescope. You will need a fairly level, unobstructed horizon to see them.
Mars returns to the morning skies this week, but is deep in the twilight and requires binoculars to see.
Venus is becoming harder to see above the western horizon in the twilight as it rapidly falls towards the horizon. At civil twilight, half an hour after sunset, it is around a hand-span above the horizon, and is lost in the twilight by the end of the week. Venus is a distinct thin crescent shape in small telescopes and even strong binoculars.
Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS is now visible in the evening when full dark has fallen. If you try looking an hour and a half after sunset you will see it reasonably high above the horizon. It is only visible in a telescope now. It is now around magnitude 8 and looks like a faint fuzzy ball of light in binoculars. it is now inside the constellation of Crater, the Cup (in the handle).
Jupiter is also becoming harder to see in the early evening twilight sky to the right of Venus in the north-western sky. It is also near the bright star Regulus in Leo. Jupiter and Venus move further apart as the week goes on while Jupiter moves closer to Regulus, being closest on the 11th.
Mercury, Jupiter and Regulus will be less than a finger-width apart on the 7th. At this time Mercury and Jupiter fit into the low power field of a telescope. You will need a fairly level, unobstructed horizon to see them.
Jupiter is no longer high enough for telescopic observation. Jupiter's Moons are still putting on a reasonable display in binoculars before the world is lost in the twilight.
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 20:00 it 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.
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.
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.
Labels: weekly sky