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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday June 14 to Thursday June 21

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday, June 20.  Venus is high in the early evening sky and forms a shallow triangle with the bright stars Pollux and Castor. On the 16th the thin crescent Moon form a triangle with Venus and Pollux. On the 20th Venus is close to the unaided eye Beehive cluster. Jupiter is past opposition, but is still big and bright in telescopes. Jupiter is still close to the bright star alpha Librae all this week. Mars and Saturn are visible in the late evening skies.  Asteroid Vesta  is closest to  open cluster M23 this week and at opposition on the 20th, when it is potentially visible to the unaided eye. Mercury returns to the evening skies.

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday, June 20. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to Earth, on Friday 15 June. Earth is at Solstice, when the day is shortest, on the 21st.

Evening twilight sky on Saturday June 16 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:11 ACST (60 minutes after sunset). Venus forms a triangle  with the crescent Moon and the star Pollux in Gemini. The inset shows a simulated telescopic view of Venus.

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

Venus is now visible in the early evening until well after full dark. Venus is visible to the unaided eye from sunset, easy to see 30-60 minutes after sunset and can viewed well after 90 minutes after sunset.During the week Venus heads towards the iconic Beehive cluster in Cancer.

Evening sky on Saturday June 16 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 18:41 ACST (90 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is  well above the horizon, close to the bright star alpha Librae. Saturn is just rising.

The inset is a simulated telescopic view of Jupiter and its moons at 21:57 ACST, on the 17th with Europa passing across the face of Jupiter. Europa's shadow follows around an hour later.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia 90 minutes after sunset (click to embiggen).


Evening sky on Saturday June 9 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST. Saturn is high above the horizon and Mars is clearly visible. The Asteroid Vesta is visible in binoculars (and may be visible to the unaided eye) near Saturn. The inset is a simulated telescopic view of Saturn and its moons.


Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).



Simulated binocular view of the region near Saturn showing the open clusters M24, M23 and Vesta on Saturday June 9 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


Vesta is now bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye from dark sky sites. It is also easily seen in binoculars. It is near the open cluster M23 just over from the iconic and easily recognisable trifid nebula. It is brighter than most of the stars in the cluster, but you may need to watch over several nights to watch it move. Vesta forms a straight line with Saturn and Polis (Mu Sagittarii) at this time.









Evening sky on Thursday June 21 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 17:40 ACST (30 minutes after Sunset). Mercury is just above the horizon below Venus.





Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen). 

 Venus  is  readily visible above the horizon in the early evening.  It is bright enough to be visible from just on sunset and easy to see 90 minutes after sunset at full dark, when it is over two hand-spans above the horizon. Especially if you have a flat, unobstructed horizon. On the 16th Venus forms a triangle  with the crescent Moon and the star Pollux in Gemini.Venus then heads towards the iconic open cluster the Beehive and just skims the edge of the cluster on the 20th. This is best viewed in binoculars, and the brightness of Venus will make it hard to see the beehive with the unaided eye.

Mercury is returns to the evening skies late this week. By the end of the week it is visible if you have a flat, level horizon, close to Pollux and below Venus.

Jupiter  is rising in the early evening. It was at Opposition on the 9th, and is still visible most of the night. It is  a good telescopic object in the mid to late evening and is highest around 21:30 local time. There are some good Jovian Moon events this week. This week Jupiter is still within a finger-width of  the bright star alpha Librae (Zubenelgenubi).

 Mars is in Capricornius and is now rising in the late evening, although best telescopically in the morning. Mars is brightening ahead of opposition later this year and is now quite bright (although it will get brighter still) and readily recognisable in the late evening. In a telescope you may see few features as a huge dust storm is sweeping the planet.

Saturn is climbing higher the evening sky, and is now a worthwhile telescopic object in the late evening sky. It is within binocular range of several attractive clusters and nebula. It is close to the bright globular cluster M22 and the pair are visible in binoculars and wide field telescope eyepieces.

Vesta is now bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye from dark sky sites. It will be at opposition on the 20th, when it will be magnitude 5.3, and could possibly be visible from suburban sites. It is also easily seen in binoculars. It is travelling near the open cluster M23. It is brighter than most of the stars in the cluster, but you may need to watch over several nights to watch it move. Vesta forms a straight line with Saturn and Polis (Mu Sagittarii) at this time and is not far from the iconic Trifid nebula. Printable spotters charts are here.

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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Tuesday, June 05, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday June 7 to Thursday June 14

The New Moon is Thursday, June 14.  Venus is high in the early evening sky and forms a line with the bright stars Pollux and Castor. Jupiter is past opposition, but is still big and bright in telescopes. Jupiter is still close to the bright star alpha Librae all this week. Venus is setting as Saturn is rising. Mars and Saturn are visible in the late evening skies.  Asteroid Vesta heads towards  open cluster M23 and is potentially visible to the unaided eye.

The New Moon is Thursday, June 14. 

Evening twilight sky on Saturday June 9 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:00 ACST (45 minutes after sunset). Venus forms a line with the  stars Castor and Pollux in Gemini. The inset shows a simulated telescopic view of Venus.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (45 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Venus is now visible in the early evening. Venus is visible to the unaided eye from sunset, easy to see 30-60 minutes after sunset and can viewed  at least 90 minutes after sunset.

Evening sky on Saturday June 9 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 18:42 ACST (90 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is  well above the horizon, close to the bright star alpha Librae. Saturn is just rising.

The inset is a simulated telescopic view of Jupiter and its moons at 19:36 ACST, on the 10th with Europa and its shadow passing across the face of Jupiter.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia 90 minutes after sunset (click to embiggen).

Evening sky on Saturday June 9 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Saturn is high above the horizon and Mars is clearly visible. The Asteroid Vesta is visible in binoculars near Saturn. The inset is a simulated telescopic view of Saturn and its moons.


Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).




Simulated binocular view of the region near Saturn showing the open clusters M24, M23 and Vesta on Saturday June 9 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


Vesta is now bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye from dark sky sites. It is also easily seen in binoculars. It is travelling above the open cluster M24 heading towards the open cluster M23. It is brighter than most of the stars in the cluster, but you may need to watch over several nights to watch it move. Vesta forms a straight line with Saturn and Polis (Mu Sagittarii) at this time.

 Venus  is  readily visible above the horizon. It is over two hand-spans above the horizon 60 minutes after sunset. It is bright enough to be visible just after sunset and easy to see up to 90 minutes after sunset, especially if you have a flat, unobstructed horizon. Vens heads towards the bright star Pollux and forms a line with the  stars Castor and Pollux in Gemini on the 9th.

Mercury is no longer visible will return to the evening skies mid June.

Jupiter  is rising in the early evening as Venus is setting. It was at Opposition on the 9th, and is still visible most of the night. It is  a good telescopic object in the mid to  late evening. There are some good Jovian Moon events this week. This week Jupiter is still within a finger-width of  the bright star alpha Librae (Zubenelgenubi).

 Mars is in Capricornius and is now rising in the late evening. Mars is brightening ahead of opposition later this year.

Saturn is climbing higher the evening sky, and is now a worthwhile telescopic object in the late eening sky. It is within binocular range of several attractive clusters and nebula. It is close to the bright globular cluster M22 and the pair are visible in binoculars and wide field telescope eyepieces.

Vesta is now bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye from dark sky sites. It is also easily seen in binoculars. It is travelling above the open cluster M24 heading towards the open cluster M23. It is brighter than most of the stars in the cluster, but you may need to watch over several nights to watch it move. Vesta forms a straight line with Saturn and Polis (Mu Sagittarii) at this time.Printable spotters chars are here.

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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Sunday, June 03, 2018

 

Seeing Vesta at Opposition (June 2018)

Evening sky showing the location of the asteroid 4 Vesta on 20 June when at opposition. The view is looking east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Saturn is high above the horizon and Mars is clearly visible. The Asteroid Vesta is visible to the north near Saturn. (click to embiggen, similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time).Simulated binocular view of the region near Saturn showing the open cluster M24 and Vesta on Monday June 4 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Vesta is above M24 and in a direct line with Mu Sag and Kaus Borealis. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The Asteroid 4 Vesta is one of the iconic minor planets, and one of two orbited by the Dawn spacecraft. Importantly at favourable oppositions Vesta is bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye under dark sky conditions.


Black and white binocular chart suitable for printing showing the movement of 4 Vesta over the next 30 days. Click to embiggen and print. 
 
Alternatively, here is  downloadable  Black and white PDF binocular chart suitable for printing. The large circle represents the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. Use the horizon chart above for orientation first.

This year is one of the best oppositions of Vesta, when it will reach a magnitude of 5.3-5.4 at its brightest. Vesta is at opposition on June 20, and is the best opposition since 2000 (and will not be surpassed until 2029). For those interested it is in a series of oppositions this year (Jupiter May 9, Saturn June 27, and Mars July 27 (best Mars opposition since 2003). Vesta will also pass by some interesting clusters and Nebula.

Vesta will be potentially visible under dark sky conditions. While it is substantially above the magnitude 6 limit for unaided eye visibility, local sky conditions, the number of stars of similar brightness, interference from moonlight and how good your eyesight is may conspire to make it difficult to see. It is however easily visible in binoculars, and if you locate it in binoculars first it will be easier to pick up. You may need to watch it over several nights to see it move and confirm its identity.

On the other hand this year Vesta has some excellent signposts to it, early in June it can be triangulated using Saturn, Mu Sagittarii, the star that forms the “lid” of the teapot of Sagittarius and Kaus Australis at the top of the teapot and the brightest star just above Saturn.

On the 4th and 5th, Kaus Australis, Mu Sagittarii and Vesta are almost in a straight line. Vesta is around half the distance between Mu Sag and Kaus Australis in a straight line north of  Mu Sag above M24.

For the first half of June, sweep north from Saturn until you reach the last obvious brightish star, this is Mu Sagittarii, just beyond and blow this is the obvious and rambling open cluster M24. Just above M24, almost in line with Mu Sagittarii the brightest object visible is Vesta. You may need to watch it over several night to see it move to ensure you have the right object.

From around the 14th sweep up from Mu Sagittarii to the iconic and beautiful Trifid nebula, then sweep across (north) to the dim open cluster M23. Vesta will be near this cluster.
While Vesta will be at opposition on the 20th, it will be brightest from the 19th to 22nd. Unfortunately by then the waxing Moon will begin to interfere, but if you find a large object to block the Moons light out and preserve your might vision, you should have no problems seeing Vesta.

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