Wednesday, January 18, 2017
The Sky This Week - Thursday January 19 to Thursday January 26
The Last Quarter Moon is Friday January 20. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 22nd.
Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 60 minutes after local sunset, click to embiggen).
Venus is high in the dusk sky and intensely bright. It can be seen easily from somewhat before half an hour after sunset to two hours after sunset. It stays dazzlingly brilliant above the horizon in truly dark skies well into the evening. Venus has been mistaken for flares or landing aeroplanes it is so bright now.
Venus is in a very star poor field in Aquarius. Venus is a distinct "half Moon" shape in telescopes.
Mars is in the western evening skies in Aquarius, close to the Aquarius/Pisces border. Mars remains in a star poor area.
Mars was at opposition on May 22, and is still visibly dimming. While still brighter than any of the nearby stars, it is much faded and not immediately obvious, It is no longer a modest telescope object. Mars is visible most of the evening setting before midnight. In small telescopes Mars will be a visible, but tiny, gibbous disk, however you are unlikely to see its markings.
Jupiter rises even higher into the morning skies this week. It is now well above the eastern horizon and is easy to see as the brightest object above the eastern horizon from around an hour and a half before sunrise. It is close to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. Jupiter is now high enough to be a good telescopic target, and the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars.
On the 19th the waning Moon is close to Jupiter, forming a triangle with it and Spica. On the morning of the 21st there is a dual transit of the shadows of Io and Io itself staring at 1:10 am AEDST.
Saturn rises higher in darker morning skiesthis week. Saturn is now high enough above eastern horizon to see easily. It continues to climb into darker skies as the week progresses.
The constellation of Scorpio is a good guide to locating Saturn and Mercury. The distinctive curl of Scorpio is easy to see above the eastern horizon, locate the bright red star, Antares, and the look below that towards the horizon, the next bright object is Saturn, followed by Mercury. On the 25th the crescent Moon is close to Saturn, on the 26th it is close to Mercury.
Mercury is at its highest above the horizon this week. It is now easy to see below Saturn from nautical twilight twilight. At the beginning of the week Mercury is at its closest to Saturn and is at its highest above the horizon, making it much easier to see, it will slowly return towards the horizon after this.
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/
Labels: weekly sky