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Wednesday, March 09, 2011


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

The First Quarter Moon is Sunday March 13. Jupiter is seen very low in the evening twilight sky. Venus is visible in the morning sky in the constellation of Capricorn. Saturn is well placed for telescopic observation.

Morning sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am daylight saving time on Sunday March 13 showing Venus in Capricorn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The First Quarter Moon is Sunday March 13.

Bright white Venus is readily seen in the early morning sky.

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

Mercury is lost to the twilight. It does return to the western sky this week, but is so close to the horizon you will need binoculars and an extraordinarily clear horizon to see it (see Jupiter entry).

Evening sky on Saturday March 12 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 11:00 pm 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 12th (and on the morning of the 13th), you will need a fairly large telescope to see any moon other than Titan. Click to embiggen

Saturn is rising well before midnight, and is high enough for telescopic observation in the late evening, although it is best seen in the early morning. It readily visible not far from the bright star Spica.

The big storm on Saturn is now so large that it is visible in even small telescopes.

Even in small telescopes you can see Saturn's rings and it's moon Titan. Titan is close to Saturn on the 16th.

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.

The asteroid Vesta is quite faint (magnitude 7.7), so you need binoculars to see it and may need to watch over a number of nights to make sure you are seeing it. You will need to get up a bit before 5:00 am local daylight saving time when the sky is still very dark. You will also need good, steady binoculars or a small telescope, and to make sure your eyes are dark adapted, in order to see Vesta, but it will be worthwhile. Vesta is brightening and will be (just) visible to the unaided eye in a few months time.

Evening sky looking west showing Jupiter at 8:00 pm local daylight saving time on Tuesday March 15. Mercury is juts below Jupiter, but you will probably need binoculars to see it. Click to embiggen.

Mars is too close to the Sun to be seen.

Jupiter is very difficult to see, setting in the early twilight. On the 15th, Jupiter and Mercury are close together above the western horizon at 8:00 pm local daylight saving time, but you will need a clear, level horizon like the sea, and possibly binoculars to see them. After this Jupiter disappears into the twilight.

Jupiter is too close to the horizon for telescopic views.

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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