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Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The Sky This Week - Thursday September 30 to Thursday October 7

The Last Quarter Moon is Friday October 1. Mars, Venus and Spica form a broad triangle in the sky. Venus and Mars are at their closest on Saturday October 2. Venus's crescent shape is easily seen in small telescopes. Jupiter is easily seen in the evening sky. Jupiter and Uranus are seen close together in binoculars.

Evening sky looking East as seen from Adelaide at 8:30 pm on Friday October 1 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 Last Quarter Moon is Friday October 1.

Jupiter rises in the early evening, and can be readily seen from about 7:00 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.

Io and Europa pass each other on October 1 at 00:10 ACST (00:40 AEST).

Jupiters' Moons are a easy to see whether you have binoculars or a telescope. Watching their eternal dance is always rewarding. On the morning of Friday October 1 September, Io and Europa pass close to each other.

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 October 2. 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 is in the constellation of Libra, the Balance. Venus is close to Mars , and they are closest on Saturday October 2. The bright star Spica (alpha Virginis) is below the pair, forming a broad triangle. Venus and is a visible crescent in small telescopes and 10x50 or stronger binoculars.

Mars is distinguishable by its reddish colouring and is the brightest object near Venus.

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.


Hi Ian!

I don't know if you remember me, but I used to live in Semaphore, and a big Astronomy lover, thanks to finding your blog through Google.

I now live in Port Augusta, so get the most fantastic starry nights! I enjoy every second of skywatching, and have got many people onto it.

And that is really thanks to you, taking the time to post blogs and let us know of upcoming Astro events. You're a champ!!
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