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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday December 17 to Thursday December 24

The First Quarter Moon is Saturday December 19.  Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky.  Jupiter, Venus and Mars form a line in the morning sky. Mars is close to the bright star Spica on the 24th. Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina is higher in the morning sky.

The First Quarter Moon is Saturday December 19. The Moon is at perigee, closest to the Earth, on the 21st. Earth is at solstice, when the day is longest, on the 22nd.


Evening sky on Saturday December 19 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 21:15 ACDST.  Mercury is just above the horizon in the late twilight. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mercury climbs higher in the twilight.

Saturn is  lost in the twilight.

The early evening sky is now graced by Mercury low in the late evening twilight. Jupiter enters the evening sky in late December.

The evening is also graced by the summer constellations of Taurus (with the V shaped cluster the Hyades forming the head of Taurus the Bull and the beautiful Pleiades cluster nearby) Orion the Hunter and Canis Major with bright Sirius, the dog star, climbing above the eastern horizon.

Early morning sky on Thursday December 24 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 ACDST showing Jupiter,  Mars, Venus and comet C/2013 US10.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter  rises higher in the morning skies and is now easy to see in the pre-dawn dark. 

Mars is higher in the morning skies and is visible in the early twilight.

Venus is easy to see in the morning twilight. It is a  distinct "half Moon" shape and impressive in a small telescope.

Jupiter, Mars, Venus and the bright stars Regulus and Spica form a line in the sky this week. Mars comes closer to the bright star Spica, and is closet on the morning of the 24th.

Comet C/2013 US10  is a telescope only object, and still difficult from the southern hemisphere. However, from the northern hemisphere it is looking quite good in telescopes.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. 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.
Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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