Wednesday, October 05, 2016
The Sky This Week - Thursday October 6 to Thursday October 13
The Last Quarter Moon is Sunday October 9.
Venus continues to rise into darker skies this week. Venus is high in the dusk sky and can be seen easily. From somewhat before half an hour to a bit after an hour and a half after sunset, Venus is easily seen, staying visible after twilight is over low above the horizon in truly dark skies.
At the start of the week Venus is closest to the bright star Alpha Librae. it then leaves this star behind and climbs towards the head of the Scorpion.
Jupiter is lost in the twilight.
Mars is in the western evening skies in the "teapot" of Sagittarius.
It starts the week within a binocular field of the bright star that forms the"lid" of the "teapot" Kaus Borealis, and the bright globular cluster M22. On the 7th Mars and Kaus Borealis are a spectacular 17 arc minutes apart (around half the diameter of the Moon). On the 9th and 10 Mars is closest to M22. Mars and M22 are easily seen in the the same binocular field, and may also be seen in wide filed telescope eye pieces. Detailed printable charts are available 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, but gibbous, 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 readily visible next to Antares in Scorpius. Saturn is still high enough for good telescopic observation in the early evening, setting abut midnight daylight saving time. In even small telescopes its distinctive rings are obvious.
On the 6th the crescent Moon is close Saturn, and in the early evening the line-up of Venus, Saturn, the crescent Moon and Mars under dark skies will look very good.
Mercury is low in the morning twilight but never rises far above the horizon.
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/