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Tuesday, April 19, 2011


The Sky This Week - Thursday April 21 to Thursday April 28

The Last Quarter Moon is Monday April 25. Venus is visible in the morning sky in the constellation of Pisces. Mars, Mercury and Jupiter are visible below Venus in the early morning. Mercury and Jupiter become more prominent the week, and Jupiter closes in on Mars. Saturn is well placed for telescopic observation in the evening sky.

Morning sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am local time on Monday April 25 showing Venus, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter in Pisces. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The Last Quarter Moon is Monday April 25.

Bright white Venus is readily seen in the early morning sky in Pisces. Venus is "gibbous" phase, and will progressively become more full (and smaller) over the coming weeks. Below Venus is a string of bright planets which will enliven the sky over the coming weeks.

Mars is visible in the eastern twilight below Venus. As the week progresses it will become even more prominent. Mercury and Jupiter are below it in the morning sky. Mercury continues to climb rapidly and draws away from Mars closing in on Venus.

Jupiter appears low on the horizon (4 degrees half an hour before sunrise), but should be readily seen if you have a fairly clear, level astern horizon. During the week Jupiter climbs higher and closes in on Mars

Evening sky on Sunday April 24 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 8:00 pm local 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 24th , you will need a fairly large telescope to see any moon other than Titan. Click to embiggen.

Saturn is rising with sunset, and is visible all night long. It is high enough for telescopic observation in the evening. It is readily visible as the bright yellowish object 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. Saturn was at opposition on April 4th, when Saturn was at its biggest and brightest. Despite opposition being past, Saturn will be big and beautiful for many weeks to come.

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 7.6), so you need binoculars to see it and may need to watch over a number of nights to make sure you are seeing it. Currently Vesta is in the Sagittarius Capricornius boundary, not near anything interesting. Vesta is brightening and will be (just) visible to the unaided eye in a few months time. A chart showing Vesta's location is 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.


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