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Sunday, November 07, 2004


Naked Eye Venus

On Wednesday morning Nov 10, the crescent Moon will be between Venus and
Jupiter (those with a low eastern horizon may also see Mars just above the
horizon). Later during the day on the 10th the Moon will pass in front of

Venus is currently bright enough to see in the daylight, but you need some
good guides to be able to locate it in the bright daytime sky. On 10
November at around lunchtime, the thin crescent Moon will move in front
of Venus. The Moon itself will be quite difficult to see unaided, but once
found it will provide a good guide for Venus (Until it covers it, that is).

As this is a daytime occultation be VERY careful of the sun, do NOT look
directly at the sun. If using binoculars ALWAYS make sure you are pointing
them a away from the sun, exercise extreme caution, as you can lose your
eyesight if you accidentally look at the Sun through binoculars. If at all
possible make sure a building, wall or tree is blocking out the Sun before
viewing the occultation. This improves safety, and improves your ability to
see Venus and the Moon as well.

The occultation will be visible in all states. It is best to start
observing about 15 minutes or a bit more before the stated time of
disappearance, in order to become familiar with the sky and locate the
moon. The Moon will be roughly 8 handspans above the northwestern horizon
(a little over halfway between the horizon and the zenith, in Perth it will
be 2/3 of the way above the north-eastern horizon). The Moon is a very thin
crescent, and will be difficult to see with the naked eye, but after a bit
of practise it should "pop out" at you. You may have to scan the sky around
the expected point to find it. It might be best to watch the rather
attractive pattern of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon in the early morning, to
try and get a feel for where they are, and use a handy object as a marker,
then use that object to guide you during the day. Alternatively, use a
small pair of binoculars to locate the Moon. Once you can see the Moon,
Venus should be easily visible directly above it. For a challenge, look for
Jupiter directly below the Moon. The occultation, while visible to the
naked eye, might best be observed using binoculars stablised on a wall,
bench or tripod. After the bright crescent has passed over Venus, Venus
will reappear in about and hour and a half's time.

Maps, diagrams and detailed time tables can be found at


Another aurora alert

Hope someone got to see the Venus-Jupiter alignment
http://www.spaceweather.com/swpod2004/05nov04/Mammana1.jpg. I saw rain.

The Sun has been popping off M-class solar flares and coronal mass
ejections at a rate of knots since the 3rd (see
http://www.spaceweather.com/images2004/04nov04/cme_c3.gif for a movie of a
recent one). Double sunspot 696 is the main culprit. The complex nature of
these CME's means that their arrival time is more difficult to predict and
their effects even more so. Geomagnetic activity is expected to rise
tonight and remain elevated for a few days. Minor storms are predicted for
high latitudes (Tasmania, Southern New Zealand, Australian Antarctic
Territories) tonight, tomorrow and the day after (Saturday 6th, Sunday 7th
and Monday 8th). Aurora can strike any time, although the best time to look
to the south is after local midnight.

To brighten up your observing time, check out http://www.heavens-above.com/
to see if the ISS or other bright satellites will fly over, or maybe you
can catch an Iridium flare.

The waning moon may interfere with seeing any aurora in the early morning,
and dark sky sites have the best chance of seeing anything.

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