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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday December 28 to Thursday January 5

The Full Moon is  Moon is Tuesday, January 2. This is a perigee moon (so called "Super Moon"). The Earth is at perihelion on January 3. The variable star Mira is now bright enough to see easily. Mars is easy to see and is heading towards bright Jupiter. Jupiter, Mars and the bright star alpha2 Librae form a line. Mercury reappears in the morning sky.

The Full Moon is  Moon is Tuesday, January 2. This is a perigee moon (so called "Super Moon") when the full Moon is closest to the Earth. The Earth is at perihelion on January 3. This when Earth is closest to the Sun.

Evening sky on January 2 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 22:19 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). The perigee full Moon is rising. The summer constellations of Taurus, Orion, Canis Major, Puppis and Carina are above the horizon. The beautiful clusters of the Pleiades and the Southern Pleiades (Theta Carina) are visible as well.(click to embiggen).

While perigee (closest approach) of the Moon is actually during daylight hours on the 2nd, the rising Moon is still closer than last Months Perigee Moon at its closest approach (356946 km at astronomical twilight vs 357493 km on 4 December at closest approach. Even so it will be hard to distinguish for most normal full Moons.However, if you have a good memory you should be able to distinguish it fro the apogee mini-Full Moon 27 July 2018.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen). Full details and links to hints on imaging the perigee Moon are at the 4 December Perigee Moon page.

 Saturn is lost in the twilight.

Morning sky on Saturday December 30 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 4:57 ACDST (60 minutes before sunrise). Jupiter is prominent and can be seen close to the alpha2 Librae, forming a line with Mars.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 60 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

Venus  is lost in the twilight.

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and is now quite prominent. It is moving away from  the bright double star alpha2 Librae (Zubenelgenubi). The pair and Mars are visible together in binoculars at the start of the week, by the end of the week Mars and Jupiter can be seen together in low power telescope eyepieces, ahead to their spectacular conjunction on the 7th.

 Mars is moving towards Jupiter and the bright double star alpha2 Librae (Zubenelgenubi). At the begining of the week the trio are visible together in binoculars. At this time Spica, Mars, alpha2 Librae (Zubenelgenubi) and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky. Mars moves towards Zubenelgenubi and Jupiter. Between the 2nd and 4th Mars and Zubenelgenubi are visible together in low power telescope eyepieces. Mars than leaves Zubenelgenubi behind and closes in on Jupiter, on the 5th Mars and Jupiter are visible together in low power telescope eye pieces, ahead of their spectacular conjunction on the 7th.


Mercury is now rising rapidly into the morning skies, and will be highest on the 2nd, it then drops back towards the horizon and a close encounter with Saturn in  the twilight.


Evening sky on January 2 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 22:19 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen)

The long period variable star Mira is now near peak brightness, and is easily visible to the unaided eye, even in Moonlight.  The circle marks the location of Mira in the rambling constellation of Cetus. The Arrow shaped head of  Taurus the bull points almost directly at Mira. This is a good time to see this iconic variable star

 Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen).

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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