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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday October 15 to Thursday October 22

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday October 21. Saturn is near the head of the Scorpion and is visited by the crescent Moon. Comet C/2013 US10 may be visible in binoculars. The mornings of this week have more planetary action. Mars and Jupiter are at their closest on the 18th, Venus comes closer to the pair over the week.

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday October 21.

Evening sky on Friday October 18 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible  above the western horizon  near the head of the Scorpion . The thin crescent Moon is just below it. Comet C/2013 US10 is visible in telescopes (and possibly binoculars). Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

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 back to front "question mark" constellation of the Scorpion above the horizon, with bright Saturn close to its head, is very nice indeed. Saturn is moving closer to the Scorpion's head and the star Acrab over the next few weeks.

On the 16th the thin crescent Moon is below Saturn.

While Saturn is  readily visible from the end of twilight, it is best for telescope observation from around 8:00 until around 10 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 nearly midway and down from the Pointers and the head of the Scorpion. It is coming closer to the horizon, so the window for observation is quite short. It is brightening very slowly, and looks to be around a magnitude dimmer than predicted (hovering somewhere around magnitude 7). It should be reasonably easy to see in good binoculars. A black and white spotters map is here.

Early morning sky on Sunday October18 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 ACDST showing Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Mars and Jupoiter are at their closest. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter  rises higher in the morning skies, but remains close to the horizon and may require a flat unobstructed horizon  to see it. 

Mars remains low the morning skies this week.  While it is climbing into darker skies it may still require a reasonably unobstructed horizon to see effectively.

During the week Mars and Jupiter draw closer together, with Venus coming towards the pair. On the 18th Mars and Jupiter are at their closest. After this Jupiter heads towards Venus, leaving Mars behind. 

Venus is easy to see in the morning twilight. It is a  distinct "half Moon" shape and impressive in a small telescope. Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the bright stars Regulus and  Procyon form a line in the sky. Over the week Venus comes closer to the pair of Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter and Venus will be closest on the 26th.

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