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Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The Sky This Week - Thursday July 15 to Thursday July 22

The First Quarter Moon is Sunday July 18. Four of the 5 classic planets are visible together in the early evening sky. Venus is close to Regulus. The crescent Moon, Mars and Saturn are close on the 16th, with Mercury below. During the week Mercury becomes more prominent and Mars and Saturn come closer. Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky.

Evening sky looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 5:50 pm on Friday July 16 showing the crescent Moon near Mars and Saturn. Click to embiggen.

The First Quarter Moon is Sunday July 18.

Jupiter rises before midnight, but is still 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.

Evening sky looking North-west showing Mercury,Venus, Mars, Saturn and Regulus at 5:50 pm local time on Thursday July 22. Click to embiggen.

Mercury can be seen low above the western horizon from half an hour after sunset at the beginning of the week. It becomes easier to see during the week rising in the evening sky and coming closer to Regulus.

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 is in Leo the lion, not far from Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, Mars and Saturn. During the week Venus comes closer to Mars and Saturn.

In the evening Mars can be seen low in the north-western sky. Mars is to the right of Venus, close to Saturn at the beginning of the week. The crescent Moon, Mars and Saturn are close on the 16th, with Mercury below. Mars comes closer to Saturn during the week. 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 close to red Mars. Telescopic observation of the ringed world is becoming more difficult as Saturn sets earlier. Saturn is high enough in the sky for the best telescopic views at around 7 pm. Saturn's' rings are opening, and look quite beautiful, even in a small telescope. On the 20th of July, Saturns' Moon Titan cruises just below the planets South 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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