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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday May 5 to Thursday May 12

The New Moon is Saturday May 7. Jupiter is visible all evening long. Venus is low above the horizon in the twilight and is close to the crescent Moon on the 6th. Saturn is close to the red star Antares and forms a triangle with Mars. Mars is in retrograde motion and is within binocular distance of the faint globular cluster M80. The Eta Aquariid meteor shower peaks May 7-8.

The New Moon is Saturday May 7. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to the Earth, on the 6th.

Evening sky on Saturday May 7 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST. The inset is the telescopic view of Jupiter at this time Showing the shadow transit of Europa. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

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

Jupiter enters the evening sky as the sun sets, and is  good for telescopic observation from around 19:00 on. Jupiter's Moons will be an excellent sight all evening. On the 7th Europa and its shadow cross Jupiter's face.

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) just above the western horizon at the beginning of evening. Orion the Hunter and Canis Major with bright Sirius, the dog star are above it and set early in the evening.

Evening sky on Saturday May 7 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Mars, Saturn and Antares form a triangle. Mars is close to the dim globular cluster M80. 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 week next to the bright red star Antares in Scorpio. Mars forms a triangle with Saturn and the red star Antares. Between the 3rd and 12th of May Mars is within a binocular field of the dim globular cluster M80, being closest on the 7th.The brightness of Mars may make seeing the cluster a bit difficult though.

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  Friday May 6 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am ACST showing Venus low in the twilight with the thin crescent Moon just above.  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 visited by the thin crescent Moon on the 6th, and is essentially lost to view after this.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.



Morning sky on Saturday May 7 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 4:00 am ACST.  The radiant of the eta Aquariid meteor shower is shown.   Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at equivalent local times. (click to embiggen).

The eta Aquariids meteor shower, the debris from Halleys comet, will peak on May 6 UT . However, the best rates will be seen from Australia on the mornings of the 7th  and 8th with around one meteor every 3 minutes at dark sky sites. More details and viewing hints are at my eta Aquariid post.

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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