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Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The Sky This Week - Thursday September 23 to Thursday September 30

The Full Moon is Thursday September 23. Mars, Venus and Spica form a triangle in the sky. Jupiter was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on Tuesday September 21. On 23 the Moon is close to Jupiter. Jupiter and Uranus are seen close together in binoculars and telescopes. Earth is at Equinox on September 23.

Evening sky looking East as seen from Adelaide at 8:30 pm on Thursday September 23 showing Jupiter close to Uranus. Jupiter is just past opposition, but is still excellent in telescopes and binoculars. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The Full Moon is Thursday September 23.

Jupiter rises before midnight, and can be readily seen from about 7:30 pm local time just above the eastern horizon. During the week you can see bright Jupiter rising in the east while Venus is still in the west.

Jupiter was at opposition on Tuesday September 21, when it is was its biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. However, Jupiter will still be excellent in binoculars and small telescopes for many weeks to come.

Jupiter and Uranus are close together and can be seen near each other in a pair of binoculars. Uranus is the brightest object within a binocular field north of Jupiter, and is in fact bright enough to be (just) seen with the unaided eye under dark sky conditions. A binocular spotters map is here.

Callisto drifts below Jupiters pole on September 24 at 00:10 ACST (00:40 AEST).

Jupiters' Moons are a great delight whether you have binoculars or a telescope. On the morning of Friday 24 September, Callisto drifts below Jupiters' pole.

Unfortunately this occurs fairly early in the morning in the eastern and central states, starting 00:40 (AEST) or 00:10 (ACST).
However, Jupiter is quite high in the sky, and viewing should be excellent .

There are lots of opportunities in the rest of the month to see cool Jupiter Moon events (scroll down until you hit Jupiter).

Evening sky looking North-west showing the Venus, Mars, and Spica at 7:00 pm local time on Saturday September 25. 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 leaves Virgo the Virgin this week and enters the constellation of Libra, the Balance. Venus is close to Mars , and they come cloae during the week. The bright star Spica (alpha Virginis) is not far below the pair, forming a triangle. Venus and is a visible crescent in small telescopes and 10x50 or stronger binouclars.

Mars is distinguishable by its reddish colouring and is the brightest object below Venus not far above Spica.

Saturn is now lost in the twilight.

Venus is a distinct crescent, and grows measurably bigger during the week. In my 10x50 binoculars on a tripod mounting Venus is very small but the crescent shape is easily visible. If your binoculars don’t have decent anti-glare coatings, you may have to observe in the early twilight in order to see Venus’s shape without internal reflections from the binocular lenses getting in the way.

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. Jupiter is well worth telescopic observation, and even in binoculars its Galilean moons are easily seen.

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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