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Tuesday, February 08, 2011


The Sky This Week - Thursday February 10 to Thursday February 17

The First Quarter Moon is Friday February 11. Jupiter is seen low in the early evening sky. Venus is visible in the morning sky in the constellation of Sagittarius. Venus comes close asteroid Vesta on the 9th and to some bright star clusters on February 12. Saturn is well placed for telescopic observation. NanoSail-D photography competition.

Morning sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am daylight saving time on Saturday February 12 showing Venus near Sagittarius. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The First Quarter Moon is Friday February 11.

Bright white Venus is readily seen in the early morning sky near the handle of the "Teapot" of Sagittarius.

Venus is "gibbous" phase, and will progressively become more full (and smaller) over the coming weeks.

On the 9th, Venus is very close to the Asteroid Vesta (see printable PDF map here). Vesta is quite faint (magnitude 7), so you need binoculars and may need to watch over a number of nights to make sure you are seeing it.

On the morning of Saturday February 12 Venus passes between the globular cluster M22 and the open cluster M25. This will look very nice in binoculars in the early morning before twilight starts.

Mercury is difficult to see in the morning sky below Venus. You will need a fairly clear, level horizon to see Mercury and by the end of the week it is lost to the twilight.

Morning sky on February 12 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am daylight saving time in South Australia showing Saturn near Spica. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.

Inset, the telescopic view of Saturn on the following day, you will need a fairly large telescope to see any moon other than titan. Click to embiggen

Saturn is rising before midnight, but it is high enough for telescopic observation in the early morning. It readily visible above the northern horizon, not far from the bright star Spica. You might be able too see the big storm on Saturn if your telescope is big enough.

Even in small telescopes you can see Saturn's rings and it's moon Titan. Over the week Titan draws close to Saturn.

Evening sky looking west showing Jupiter and Uranus at 9:00 pm local daylight saving time on Saturday February 12. Click to embiggen.

Mars is too close to the Sun to be seen.

Jupiter can be readily seen from twilight until it sets in the early evening. Jupiter is above the north-western horizon, setting around 10:30 pm daylight saving time.

Jupiter is too close to the horizon for good telescopic views, but its moons are excellent in binoculars.

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

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.

NASA is holding a competition for images of the Solar Sail satellite NanoSail-D, descriptions of the copetition and and details of how to find the satellite are at the NanoSail-D photography competition link.

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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