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Tuesday, July 26, 2016


The Sky This Week - Thursday July 28 to Thursday August 4

The New Moon is Wednesday August 3. Venus and Mercury rise in the early evening sky. The Moon is close to Venus on Thursday August the 4th  Jupiter is visible in the early evening. Mars and Saturn are visible all evening long. Saturn is close to the red star Antares and forms a triangle with Mars. The Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower peaks the morning of 30 July.

The New Moon is Wednesday August 3.

Evening sky on Thursday August 4 looking west at 45 minutes after sunset. Jupiter is above Venus and Mercury.  Venus and the crescent Moon are close  star Regulus. Similar views will be seen throughout 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. Jupiter will be an excellent telescopic target but s rapidly coming too close to the horizon.

Jupiter is in the north-western evening sky as the sun sets, and is  good for telescopic observation from around 18:00 on until around 8:30 pm when it will be a little too close to the horizon. Jupiter's Moons will be an still be excellent sight.

Venus and Mercury continue to rise above the twilight glow this week, you will need a clear, unobstructed horizon to see them effectively at the beginning of the week, but by the end of the week Mercury will be sufficiently high in the dusk sky to see clearly. A little after half an hour after sunset, Venus, Mercury, the bright star Regulus and Jupiter make a nice line-up in the dusk sky.

Mercury comes closer to the bright star Regulus in the dusk and is closest on the 30th and 31st, Then Venus approaches and on Thurday 4 August Venus, Regulus and the crescent Moon are close in the dusk.

Evening sky on Saturday July 30 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Mars, Saturn and Antares form a triangle. The inset shows telescopic views of Mars and Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars is high in the evening skies near the head of the Scorpion in Libra.

Mars continues to head back towards the head of the Scorpion this week. Mars forms a line with the star Dschubba in the head of the Scorpion and Antares.  As well Mars forms a triangle with Saturn and the red star Antares. Mars was at opposition on May 22,  and is visibly dimming, but is still a decent telescope object. It is visible all evening long. In even small telescopes Mars will be a visible disk, and you should see its markings. Mars comes visibly closer to Dschubba this week.

 Saturn was at opposition on the 3rd of June. However, Saturn's change in size and brightness is nowhere near as spectacular as Mars's, and Saturn will be a reasonable telescopic object for many weeks. Saturn is reasonably high in the evening sky and is readily visible below Scorpius. Saturn forms a triangle with Mars and the red star Antares. It is now high enough for good telescopic observation in the evening. In even small telescopes its distinctive rings are obvious.

Evening sky looking north from Adelaide at 2 am local time in South Australia. The starburst marks the radiant  (the point where the meteors appear to originate from) of the Southern Delta Aquariids. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The Southern Delta-Aquarids meteor shower runs from from 12 July to 23rd August, peaking on the morning of Saturday July the 30th. The number of meteors you will see depends on how high the radiant is above the horizon, and how dark your sky is. This shower is fairly faint, with the highest rate of around a meteor every 4 minutes (more detail here).

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.


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