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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 24 to Thursday October 1

The Full Moon is Monday September 28. This is a perigee "super" Moon.  Mercury is low in the twilight. Saturn is near the head of the Scorpion. Comet C/2013 US10 may be visible in binoculars. Mars is visible low in the morning twilight with Venus easily visible above it in the morning twilight.  Jupiter is low in the morning sky

The Full Moon is Monday September 28. This is a perigee full Moon, where the Moon is closest to the Earth, a so-called "super" Moon. There is a total Lunar eclipse at this time but this is not visible from Australasia.


Comparison of the April 21, 2016 mini Moon and the September 21 perigee "Super" Moon simulated in Stellarium.

While a perigee Full Moon is bigger and brighter than the average Full Moon, this is almost imperceptible to the unaided eye (and even with a telescope you will need a good memory or photographic evidence to see the difference).


On March 5, the Moon was 406385 Km from Earth at furthest remove, while on September 28 it will be 356876 Km away at closest approach at 12:50 pm. See here for more information.

Early evening sky on Saturday September 26 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:45 ACST showing Mercury and Spica.

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

Mercury continues to lower in the evening sky. This is the last week to see it as it heads towards the western horizon. By the weekend it will difficult to see in the twiight, and by the end io the week it is no longer visible
 

Evening sky on Saturday September 26 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible high above the western horizon  near the head of the Scorpion. Comet C/2013 US10 is visible in telescopes (and possibly binoculars) not far from the pointers. 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 above the horizon, 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 around 11 pm. This is also a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail.

Comet C/2013 US10 is not far from the Pointers, near a brightish triangle of stars in Lupus. It is now brightening very slowly. With the full Moon this week it is unlikely to be seen in anything but telescopes.  A black and white spotters map is here.

Early morning sky on Friday September 25 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 ACST showing Venus, Mars and Jupiter just above the horizon, forming a line with Procyon.  The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter  returns to the morning skies, but remains close to the horizon and may require a flat unobstructed horizon and binoculars to see it. 

Mars remains  low the morning skies this week.  While it is climbing out of the twilight into darker skies it still requires a flat unobstructed horizon to see effectively. From the 24th to 26h it is within a finger-width of the bright star Regulus, being closest on the 25th. This will be difficult to see.

Venus climbs higher in the morning twilight and is now reasonably easy to see. It is a  distinct waxing crescent and impressive in a small telescope. Venus Mars, Jupiter and the bright star Procyon form a line in the sky. While it is currently not very clear, over the next couple of weeks the sight will improve considerably.

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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