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Wednesday, October 06, 2010


The Sky This Week - Thursday October 7 to Thursday October 14

The New Moon is Friday October 8. Mars and Venus and Spica are not far from each other, with the crescent Moon joining the pair on October 10. Venus's crescent shape is easily seen in small telescopes and good binoculars. Jupiter is easily seen in the evening sky. Jupiter and Uranus are seen close together in binoculars. October 14, occultation of pi Sagittarii.

Evening sky looking East as seen from Adelaide at 8:00 pm daylight saving time on Sunday October 10 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 New Moon is Friday October 8.

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.

Ganymede exits Jupiter's disk on October 10 at 03:45 ACDST (04:15 AEDST). Ganymede's shadow is still on the disk.

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 Sunday October 10 Ganymede and its shadow pass over the face of Jupiter.

Unfortunately this occurs fairly early in the morning in the eastern and central states, starting 01:30 (AEDST) or 01:00 (ACDST).
Jupiter starts quite high in the sky, and viewing should be excellent for the start of the event, but by the time Ganymede exits Jupiter they will be low in the western horizon.

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 the crescent Moon at 8:00 pm local daylight saving time on Sunday October 10. 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. Venus is visible crescent in small telescopes and 10x50 or stronger binoculars, and becomes dramatically bigger and thinner over the next few weeks, although it comes closer to the horizon, making observation more difficult.

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.

Evening sky facing west as seen from Adelaide at 22:50 ACDST on October 14. The Moon is just about to pass in front of pi Sagittarii.

On the evening of October 14 the Moon passes in front of the moderately bright star pi Sagittarii, the star is covered at around 11 pm daylight saving time, so start looking about half an hour earlier. For exact timing at major cities see here.

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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