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Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The Sky This Week - Thursday June 24 to Thursday July 1

The Full Moon is Saturday June 26, and there will be a good partial eclipse of the Moon. Venus is readily visible in the early evening, heading towards Regulus. Venus, Regulus, Mars and Saturn make an attractive line up. Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky.

Evening sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 9:08 pm on Saturday July 26, 2010. Click to embiggen.

The Full Moon is Saturday June 26. On the evening of Saturday, June 26 there will be a partial eclipse of the Moon. This will be seen through-out Australia, New Zealand, the pacific, south-east Asia and parts of the Americas.

The timing of the eclipse is in the early evening on a Saturday, so this is a great time to get the family involved in watching. I've made a printable guide for kids with directions (Australia specific), and some activities they can do during the eclipse. Maximum eclipse depth is 9:38 pm eastern states, 9:08 pm central states and 7:38 pm WA, with over half the Moon covered. For more details see here.

The morning sky facing north-east in Australia on Sunday June 27 at 4:30 am local time showing Jupiter. Click to embiggen.

Jupiter is clearly visible in the northern sky as the brightest object in the early morning. Jupiter is now high enough for telescopic observation to be rewarding. Jupiter looks a little different now that one of its bands has disappeared. Jupiter and Uranus are close together and can be seen near each other in a pair of binoculars (spotters map here). There is no evidence of impact scars from the object that crashed into Jupiter on the 3rd of June.

Evening sky looking North-west showing Venus, the Moon, Mars and Regulus at 6:30 pm local time on Sunday June 27. Click to embiggen.

Bright white Venus is readily visible above the western horizon from half an hour after Sunset, (even before) until past the end of twilight (about an hour and a half after sunset). Venus starts the week in Cancer, forming a line with the Regulus, Mars and Saturn. During the week Venus moves towards Regulus as a prelude to some spectacular planetary alignments in July and August. By the end of the week Venus is in the constellation of Leo the Lion.

In the evening Mars can be seen low in the north-western sky. Mars is to the right of Regulus, the bright star in Leo the lion at the beginning of the week and will draw further away from it during the week, coming closer to Saturn. Mars is now only slightly brighter than Regulus, but is distinguishable by its reddish colouring.

Saturn is easily visible in the western evening sky as the bright yellow object between the bright stars Regulus and Spica, just up from Mars. Now is still a very good time for telescopic observation of the ringed world. Saturn is quite high in the sky for the best telescopic views at around 8 pm. Saturn's' rings are opening, and look quite beautiful, even in a small telescope. On the 26th of June, Saturns' Moon Titan cruises just above the planets north pole.

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 ADST, Western sky at 10 pm ADST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch. Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.


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