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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

 

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

The Full Moon is Wednesday March 23. At this time there is a penumbral eclipse of the Moon. Jupiter is  is visible all night long and has some nice Moon events. It is visited by the Moon on the 22nd. Venus is low above the horizon. Saturn  is close to the red star Antares and forms a triangle with Mars which is in on the head of the Scorpion. Mars starts the week very close to the star Graffias.

The Full Moon is Wednesday March 23. At this time there is a penumbral eclipse of the Moon.

Evening sky on Wednesday March 23 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 22:47 ACDST at maximum penumbral eclipse. The darkening will be much more subtle than in this simulation. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

On the evening of 23 March there is a penumbral eclipse of the Moon, where the Moon glides through the outer segment of the shadow cast by Earth.  The Moons darkening will be much fainter than in a total or partial lunar eclipse. In eastern and central states the eclipse starts around the end of twilight, but you really won't be able to notice anything until quite late in  the evening. Details of exact timings can be found here.

Evening sky on Tuesday March 22 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST. The inset is the telescopic view of Jupiter at this time, showing Io, Europa and Ganymede. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter was at opposition on the 8th, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. However, Jupiter will be an excellent telescopic target for many week to come.

Jupiter enters the evening sky as the sun sets, and is  good for telescopic observation from around 21:00 on. Jupiter's Moons will be an excellent sight late in the evening. On March 18 Io and Europa and their shadows cross the face of Jupiter from around midnight.

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, above the north-western horizon at the beginning of evening.

Evening sky on Saturday March 19 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:55 ACDST. Mars is near the brightish star Grafias. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars is high in the morning skies and is now rising in the evening before  midnight. Mars is in the head of the Scorpion.

Mars starts the wee less than half a finger-width from the double star Graffias. In a small telescope the bright pair and Mars, showing a visible disk, will be quite nice. As the week goes on Mars enters a triangle of stars formed by Grafias, the double star omega Scorpii and nu Scoprii. Mars also forms a triangle with Saturn and the red star Antares.

Saturn is low in the evening sky around midnight and is readily visible below Scorpius. Saturn forms a triangle with Mars and the red star Antares.

Early morning sky on  Sunday March 20 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 ACDST showing Venus.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Venus is becoming harder to see as it sinks in the  morning twilight. It is a  distinct "gibbous Moon" shape and is nice in a small telescope. . 

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

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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