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Sunday, August 17, 2014

 

Venus and Jupiter Close together in the Twilight Glow (morning, 18 August 2014)

Morning sky on Monday August 18 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at civil twilight, 6:30 am ACST.  Venus is low above the horizon, Jupiter is so close it may be hard to see it separately. The inset shows the binocular view (click to embiggen)Morning sky on Monday August 18 looking north-east as seen from Brisbane at civil twilight, 5:22 am AEST.  (click to embiggen)Morning sky on Monday August 18 looking north-east as seen from Darwin  at civil twilight, 6:37 am ACST.  (click to embiggen)

This Monday morning (18 August) Venus and Jupiter are less than half a fingerwidth apart and may be difficult to distinguish with the unaided eye. However, this close conjunction is deep in the twilight, and will be difficult to see.

While viewers further north have the best views if you have a flat horizon (like the ocean or dessert), you should be able to see them if you look half an hour before local sunrise.

From Adelaide the pair are a mere three finger-widths above the horizon at civil twilight (half an hour before sunrise), from Brisbane a hand-span above the horizon at civil twilight and from Darwin a hand-span and a half almost (see diagrams above). From Melbourne and Hobart the pair are even closer to the horizon.

The pair are close enough that the will easily fit into the field of view of standard binoculars.  With the advancing dawn, you may need binoculars to even see Jupiter. Be very careful of the rising sun though.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

 

The Cresent Moon vists Venus and Mercury, Morning July 25-26, 2014

Morning sky on Friday July 25 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am ACST. The crescent Moon is close to Venus. Mercury is close to the horizon. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at equivalent local times. (click to embiggen).Morning sky on Saturday July 26 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am ACST. VThe crescent Moon is close to Mercury . Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at equivalent local times. (click to embiggen).

On the morning of Friday July 25 and Saturday July 26 respectively, the crescent Moon is close to Venus and Mercury respectively, making for a nice morning view. Mercury is very close to the horizon, so you will need a clear , level horizon for a chance of catching Mercury and the Moon together on Saturday. Friday mornings Venus and Moon pairing will be much easier to see as they rise into the twilight.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

 

See Venus and the crescent Moon, Morning Saturday 26 April

Morning sky on Saturday April 26 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACST. Venus is near the thin crescent Moon. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time. (click to embiggen).

This Saturday morning will see the crescent Moon close to Venus, this will be lovely to look at, and a nice subject for photography.

Saturday morning is also a good time to see Venus in the daytime. Venus can be readily visible during the day if you know where to look. Using the Moon as a handy guide will help you find it.

Make sure the Sun is hidden behind something solid like a building or a wall when you are looking for Venus, not trees or your hand. Exposing your eyes directly to the glare of the Sun can be very dangerous and you could potentially lose your sight.

Look for the crescent Moon, and Venus should be visible as a bright dot about three finger-widths to the right of the Moon (and just slightly above it).  It's best to look just after Sunrise when the Sun is still low and the sky is less bright. You may need to look carefully for a while before Venus "pops" out at you. Sometimes locating Venus in binoculars will help with locating it with the unaided eye.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

 

I missed the Occultation of Lambda Aquarii by Venus, but Tom Harradine didn't

I jinxed myself by not getting my travelling box of lenses and guff out of the cupboard and putting it on the bench the night before. But hey, I said, I'm not driving, so I have plenty of time to open the cupboard and walk to the back yard. Pah! So I missed wake up time (heck I missed my normal work wakeup time) and missed the occultation of lambda Aquarii by Venus.

But Tom Harradine didn't. Here is his shot of the star emerging from behind Venus, and a nice video of the star emerging.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

 

Don't Forget, Venus Occults Lambda Aquarii Morning April 17, 2014

The bright star Lambda Aquarii about to exit from the dark side of Venus at 4:04 AEST as seen from Brisbane. Most other Australian locations that see the occultation will see similar views, although Venus will be closer to the horizon. The insert shows the telescopic view, click to embiggen.

Don't forget that tomorrow morning at 3:59 am AEST (3:29 am ACST) Venus will occult the bright star Lambda Aquarii.

This is a rare occurrence, and the sight of the Star exiting from Venus's dark side will be quite different to a Lunar occultation due to Venus's atmosphere.

Brisbane has the best view, with Venus being higher than all other locations when it occults the star. For more details, charts and timings see my Venus occultation page.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

 

Venus Occults the Bright Star Lambda Aquarii April 17, 2014

Venus about to cover the bright star Lambda Aquarii at 3:59 AEST on April 17 as seen from Sydney. Most other locations to see the occultation will see similar views. Telescopic view, click to embiggen.The bright star Lambda Aquarii about to exit from the dark side of Venus at 4:04 AEST as seen from Sydney. Most other locations to see the occultation will see similar views. Telescopic view, click to embiggen.
Eastern horizon from Brisbane at 3:59 AEST, 17 AprilEastern horizon from Adelaide at 3:29 AEST, 17 April

A rare occultation of a bright star by the planet Venus occurs on April 17 in Australia and New Zealand (April 16 UT). Magnitude 3.7 Lambda Aquarii will pass behind Venus starting at 17:59 UT and finishing roughly 5 minutes later at 18:04 UT. What this translates out into local times on the morning of April 17 is shown in the table below (actually there is some variation in time by up to 30 seconds or more, but you should be watching well before hand).

Venus's thick atmosphere will make this occultation different from those of the Moon, where the stars wink out almost instantaneously (unless they are skimming along some mountains). You may be able to see the star begin to peek though Venus's atmosphere before reappearing (the bright side will be too bright to see the star immerse itself in the atmosphere, unless you have some serious kit).

While in Australia the occultation takes place before astronomical twilight, in most places it is quite low to the horizon. In Adelaide it is under a handspan from the horizon, Brisbane has the best view with the occultation nearly three handspans above the horizon. So for most places you will need a fairly clear, level horizon for this occultation.

In New Zealand the occultation occurs with Venus high in the sky, but near nautical twilight.

You WILL need a telescope to see this, Venus's light will overwhelm unaided eye views, and to some degree binocular views, but anyway the really cool part is to see the star emerge from Venus's atmosphere, which you can only see with a telescope.


City Occultation Start Occultation End Height Above Horizon
Adelaide (ACST) 3:29 am 3:34 am
Alice Springs (ACST) below horizon below horizon -
Auckland (NZT) 6:01 am 6:04 am 33°
Brisbane (AEST) 3:59 am 4:04 am 16°
Cairns (AEST) 3:59 am 4:04 am
Canberra (AEST) 3:59 am 4:04 am 13°
Darwin (ACST) below horizon below horizon -
Hobart (AEST) 3:59 am 4:03 am 11°
Melbourne (AEST) 4:00 am 4:03 am 15°
Perth (AWST) below horizon below horizon -
Rockhampton (AEST) 3:59 am 4:04 am 11°
Sydney (AEST) 3:59 am 4:04 am 15°
Townsville (AEST) 3:59 am 4:04 am 10°
Christchurch (NZT) 5:59 am 6:03 am 30°

You can see some discussion in the Ice in Space forums here, with more information. A fairly impenetrable map is here.

Hat tip to Rob Kaufman  for alerting me to this occultation.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

 

Venus and the Crescent Moon 27-28 March 2014 (see Venus in the daylight)

Morning sky on Thursday March 27 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am ACDST in South Australia.  Venus is well above the horizon with the crescent Moon nearby. Mercury is relatively high above the horizon. The inset show the telescopic view at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


This Thursday and Friday Mornings will see the crescent Moon close to Venus, this will be lovely to look at, and a nice subject for photography.


Thursday morning is also a good time to see Venus in the daytime. Venus can be readily visible during the day if you know where to look. Using the Moon as a handy guide will help you find it. Make sure the Sun is hidden behind something solid like a building or a wall when you are looking for Venus, not trees or your hand. Exposing your eyes directly to the glare of the Sun can be very dangerous and you could potentially lose your sight.

Look for the crescent Moon, and Venus should be visible as a bright dot about a hand-span (the distance covered by your fingers when you hand is help up at arms length in at "stop" gesture, about 6 degrees) below and a little to the right of the Moon.  It's best to look just after Sunrise when the Sun is still low and the sky is less bright. You may need to look carefully for a while before Venus"pops" out at you. Sometimes locating Venus in binoculars will help with locating it with the unaided eye.


On Friday morning the Moon is below Venus, and a bit further away (8 degrees) so it may be harder to spot Venus.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

 

A String of Bright Planets

Evening Sky around 11:00 pm local daylight saving tine showing Jupiter, Mars and Saturn (and the Moon and Vesta). Click to embiggen.Morning Sky around 6:00 am local daylight saving tine showing  Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury. Click to embiggen.

You can see all five of the classic bright planets strung out across the sky if you stay up a bit late and arise a bit early over the next week or so.

Jupiter, Mars and Saturn can be seen stretched across the sky from the north-western to the eastern horizon if you are up late (there is also Vesta as well). With golden Jupiter over the north-west and orange Mras over the east, and the Milky Way curved above then, it al looks beautfiul.

If you are up in the morning then you can see Mars above the north-western horizon, Saturn forms a triangle with the two brightest stars of Libra, pointing towards the head of Scorpius the Scorpion (this is not so evident in the late evening but quite obvious in the early morning). The Milky way flows between these two bright planets and Venus and Mercury, bright above the eastern horizon.

It's quite hard to represent the effect with planetarium programs (embiggen my feeble attempts above to see what I mean), but head out in the late evening or morning and you will be rewarded.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

 

Crescent Venus and the Crescent Moon, 26 and 27 February 2014

Morning sky on Wednesday February 26 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:45 am ACDST in South Australia.  Crescent Venus is well above the horizon with the crescent Moon just above. Mercury is low on the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).Morning sky on Thursday February 27 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am ACDST in South Australia.   The crescent Moon is below Venus. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Crescent Venus is very close to the crescent Moon on February 26, and not far from the Crescent Moon on February 27. This is an excellent opportunity for astrophotography.

Africa, India and parts of South-East Asia will see an occultation of Venus on the 26th. For India and South East Asia this will be a daytime occultation.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

 

The ISS passes Venus (11 February 2014 - yes, I know this is late)

The International Space Station zips below Venus on the morning of 11 February 2014. Stack of 10 x 5 second exposures at 400 ASA with my Canon IXUS.  Images stacked with ImageJ. Click to embiggenAnimation of the same stack of 10 images in Image J, with contrast cranked up. The ISS passes behind cloud. Click to Embiggen.

The ISS had a series of bright passes near Venus last week, but I could only catch one due to cloud. Then a whole bunch of work and family stuff took me away from the computer, so I am only now getting this posted.

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

 

Bright International Space Station Passes Near Venus (11-14 February 2014)

The ISS passes near Venus, as seen from Melbourne on the morning of Tuesday February 11 at 6:18 AEDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes near Venus, as seen from Adelaide on the morning of Tuesday February 11 at 5:47 ACDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes near Venus, as seen from Perth on the  morning of Tuesday February 11 at 4:49 AWST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Tuesday February 11 for Melbourne.All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Tuesday February 11 for Adelaide.All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Tuesday February 11 for Perth.

Starting Tuesday morning  there are a series of bright morning passes of the International Space Station. For many places in Australia this series has the ISS gliding close to Venus. For most places the best time is the morning of Tuesday February 11, but there are good passes on the 13th and 14th as well.
When and what you will see is VERY location dependent, so you need to use either Heavens Above or CalSky to get site specific predictions for your location (I'm using Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth as examples, the view from Melbourne is different from that of Adelaide and Perth on the morning of the 11th). Even the difference between the city centre and the suburbs can mean the difference between seeing the ISS go through Venus or just above or below it.
 
Start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, on the night there may be slight differences in the time of the ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions. The ISS will be moving reasonably fast when it passes near Venus, so you need to be alert or you will miss it.

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

 

Venus and the Moon, 6 December 2013

Venus in the daylight, captured with my Canon IXUS at 3x Zoom, ASA 400, auto setting about an hour before sunset. Click to embiggen to see Venus clearly.Venus in the twilight, captured with my Canon IXUS at 3x Zoom about half an hour after sunset. Click to embiggen just because you can.

Venus and the Moon were close last night, and it was an excellent opportunity to see Venus in the daylight, which I did, easily.

Venus and the Moon cast paths across the sea as they sink into a bank of cloud.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

 

The International Space Station and Venus, 19-28 November 2013

The ISS passes almost on top of Venus  as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Friday November 22 at 22:22 ACDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes almost on top of Venus  as seen from Sydney on the evening of Sunday November 24 at 21:18 AEDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing times from Heavens Above for Friday November 22 for Adelaide.All sky chart showing times from Heavens Above for Sunday November 24  for Sydney.

During this week there are a series of bright evening passes of the International Space Station. For many places in Australia the ISS comes close to Venus. In some places the ISS almost appears to go over the top of Venus, for example 22 November at 22:22 ACDST in Adelaide and 24 November 21:18 AEDST in Sydney.

When and what you will see is VERY location dependent, so you need to use either Heavens Above or CalSky to get site specific predictions for your location. Even the difference between the city centre and the suburbs can mean the difference between seeing the ISS go over Venus or just below it.

Start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, on the night there may be slight differences in the time of the  ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions. The ISS will be moving reasonably fast when it passes Venus, so be alert.

If you are trying to take pictures, make sure you have a tripod and have the camera in night mode (or a mode were you can take exposures of around 5 minutes), if you can set the camera to take multiple exposures unattended that would be best.

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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

 

Venus, the Moon and the ISS, Tuesday 5 November 2013

Venus and the crescent Moon. Image is a single 1 second exposure at ASA 400 3x Zoom with my Canon IXUS. Click to embiggen Venus and the ISS. Image is a single 5 second exposure at ASA 400 with my Canon IXUS. Click to embiggen

I was all set up to shoot the ISS as it passed Venus tonight. Camera set up and aligned and all. And my alarm failed to go off. Rushed outside and all I got was the single shot you see. Catching the cresent Moon and Venus earlier in the evening was fine.

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

 

Venus in the Heart of the Galaxy

Venus near the heart of the galaxy. Image is a stack of 10x60 second exposures at ASA 400 with my Canon IXUS. Stacked in DeepSky Stacker. Click to embiggen (WARNING 7 Mb file, but it's worth it)Close-up showing Venus near the Triffid Nebula and M7. Image is a stack of 10x60 second exposures at ASA 400 with my Canon IXUS at 3x Zoom. Stacked in DeepSky Stacker. Click to embiggen (WARNING 7 Mb file, but it's worth it)

Venus has several close encounters with various beautiful clusters and bright stars in Sagittarius this month.

On the 2nd Venus was two finger-widths from the galactic centre, and now it passes into the star clouds of Sagittarius.

Printable back and white chart of Venus's travels this month.

Venus passes within binocular distance of the beautiful cluster M21 and the Lagoon and Triffid nebulas between the 3rd-6th (see images above).

On November 11 Venus and the bright star Kaus Borealis are less than 2 finger-widths apart. The dim globular cluster M28 is clse as well.

On November 11 Venus and the bright globular cluster M22 are within binocular distance of each other.

On the 16th Venus is a finger-width from the bright star phi Sagittarii. On the 19th Venus is much less than a finger-width from the bright star Nunki, they may be hard to tell apart with the unaided eye.

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The International Space Station, Venus and the Moon, 3-8 November 2013

The ISS passes near Venus, Sagittarius, as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Tuesday November 5 at 21:33 ACDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes beside Venus and the crescent Moon, as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Thursday November 7 at 21:34 ADCST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing times from Heavens Above for Tuesday November 5 for Adelaide.Click to embiggenAll sky chart showing times from Heavens Above for Thursday November 7 for Adelaide. Click to embiggen

This week sees another series of bright evening passes of the International Space Station. For many places in Australia this series is capped midweek to end week by a series of spectacular passes as the ISS comes close to Venus while Venus itself is close to the Moon.

When and what you will see is VERY location dependent (eg on the 5th in Sydney the ISS crosses the Zenith, far from Venus, but on the 7th it is closer to Venus than from Adelaide), so you need to use either Heavens Above or CalSky to get site specific predictions for your location. Even the difference between the city centre and the suburbs can mean the difference between seeing the ISS go close to Venus or far from it.

Start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, on the night there may be slight differences in the time of the ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions. The ISS will be moving reasonably fast when it passes byVenus, so be alert.

If you are trying to take pictures, make sure you have a tripod and have the camera in night mode (or a mode were you can take exposures of around 5 minutes), if you can set the camera to take multiple exposures unattended that would be best.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

 

The ISS Shoots Past Venus and the Scorpion (26 September, 2013)

The International Space Station passes over Venus and belwo the head of the Scorpion. 8 images stacked and SUMMED in ImageJ. Canon IXUS 400 ASA 5 second exposure. Click to embiggenImages cropped and animated using ImageJ (click to embiggen)

So I got to see the ISS pass I wrote about earlier. I was beautiful, with the brightening ISS gliding above Venus and disappearing into Earth's shadow. The Cygnus cargo craft was supposed to be visible too, but neither I noire JupiterisBig managed to see it. Still, very nice show.

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Bright Pass of ISS above Venus Tonight! (September 26)

There is a series of bright passes of the International Space Station occurring now.  Tonight the ISS will pass above Venus in the early evening as seen from many parts of Australia.

For exact predictions for your location see Heavens Above. http://www.heavens-above.com/

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Monday, September 23, 2013

 

Venus, Saturn, SPica and Mercury, 22 September 2013

Venus, Saturn, Spica and Mercury imaged on 22 September at 6:55 pm ACST using my Canon IXUS, 400 ASA 1 second exposure. Mercury is the dot just above the second lowest branch, Spica is just above Mercury. Venus is the obvious brightest object in the field and Saturn is below and to the right of Venus. Click to embiggen.Closer up view of Venus, Saturn, Spica and Mercury imaged on 22 September using my Canon IXUS, 400 ASA 1.6 second exposure 2 x zoom. In the embiggened version it is easier to see alpha2 Librae, which Venus is heading towards. The bright line at the bottom is me  with a torch trying to illuminate the tree for artistic effect.. Click to embiggen.

Beautiful clear evening, finally got to see the planets in the evening twilight. The photographs do not do justice to the colours. Mercury is very easy to see now, and will be close to Spcia soon.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

 

Venus, Saturn and Mercury, 17 September 2013

Venus, Saturn, Spica and Mercury imaged on 17 September using my Canon IXUS, 400 ASA 6 second exposure.Mercury is the faint dot just above the cloud, Spica is between Mercury and Venus (the obvious brightest object in the field) and Saturn is to the right of Venus. Click to embiggen.Closer up view of Venus, Saturn and Mercury imaged on 17 September using my Canon IXUS, 400 ASA 6 second exposure 2 x zoom. Mercury is harder to see as the cloud started coming over it. Click to embiggen..

Finally got a decent clear night where I could image the trio of Mercury, Venus and Saturn (with the star Spica as well). Mercury is quite clear now in the twilight, and the grouping is very attractive.

Tomorrow night Venus and Saturn are at their closest (so of course it will be cloudy).

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