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Tuesday, August 30, 2016


The Sky This Week - Thursday September 1 to Thursday September 8

The New Moon is Thursday September 1. Venus,  Jupiter and Mercury form a triangle in the twilight and are visited by the crescent Moon on the 3rd. Mars and Saturn are visible all evening long and form a triangle with the red star Antares. There are a series of good International Space Station Passes.

The New Moon is Thursday September 1. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on September 7.

Evening sky on Saturday September 3 looking west at 40 minutes after sunset. Jupiter, Venus and Mercury form a triangle with the Moon inside it.  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 is low in the western evening sky as the sun sets, and is  too close to the horizon for decent telescopic observation. Jupiter's Moons will be visible in binoculars for a short while before it sets.

Venus continues to rise above the twilight glow this week. Venus and fleet Mercury are sufficiently high in the dusk sky to be seen easily. From a little after half an hour to an hour after sunset to a bit over an hour after sunset, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter make a nice triangle the dusk sky. If you extend a line from the apex  formed by Venus up it meets the triangle formed by Mars, Anatres and Saturn.

Mercury continues to return to the horizon.

Jupiter, Mercury and Venus form a triangle in the dusk, becoming more elongated as Venus rises and Mercury and Jupiter race each other to the horizon. On the 3rd the thin crescent Moon sits inside the triangle, just below Venus.

Evening sky on Saturday September 3 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Mars, Saturn and Antares form a triangle. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars is high in the western evening skies in the body of the Scorpion (strictly, it is in the constellation of Ophiuchus, as is Saturn).

Mars moves further down the body of the Scorpion this week, moving away from Saturn and the red star Antares. The triangle they form continues to lengthen. All week Mars is within binocular distance of the globular cluster M19. It can only be seen in binoculars or a small telescope, but the paring with Mars, which is closest on the 6th and 7th, will be very nice. Details for this event are here.

Mars was at opposition on May 22,  and is still visibly dimming, but is still a modest telescope object. It is visible all evening long. In even small telescopes Mars will be a visible disk, and you may even be able to  see its markings.

 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 next toScorpius. Saturn is still high enough for good telescopic observation in the evening. In even small telescopes its distinctive rings are obvious.

The ISS passes near Venus and Jupiter, as seen from Melbourne on the evening of  Friday 2 September at 18:59 AEST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.

 Until Saturday 3 September there is series of bright passes of the International Space Station occurring in the evening twilight. In middle and Southern  Australia the ISS will pass close to Mars and Antares at varying times . However, the most spectacular events are when the ISS shoots between (or very close to) Venus and Jupiter on the 2nd (Canberra and Sydney) or the 3rd (Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne. Details and viewing hints are 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.

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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