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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The Sky This Week - Thursday June 2 to Thursday June 9

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday June 9. Venus, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter form a line in the morning sky. Mercury leaves the morning sky. Saturn is very close to gamma Virginis.

Morning sky looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am local time on Sunday June 5 showing Jupiter, with Mars, Venus and Mercury lined up below. Mercury is just rising at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday June 9.

This week sees the bright planets strung out in a line, with Venus and Mercury heading towards the horizon.

Jupiter is prominent in the early morning sky above the threesome of Mars, Venus and Mercury. Mars is just above Venus, but is not very spectacular. Bright white Venus is coming closer to the horizon, but is still readily seen in the early morning sky. Venus is "gibbous" phase, and is nearly "full".

Mercury is still visible in the eastern twilight below Venus, but draws away from Venus during the week, becoming progressively more difficult to observe as it heads towards the horizon. Mercury is lost to view by the end of the week.

Evening sky on Saturday June looking north as seen from Adelaide at 9:00 pm local time in South Australia showing Saturn near Spica and very close to Porrima (gamma Virginis). Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.

Inset, the telescopic view of Saturn on the 4th , you will need a fairly large telescope to see any moon other than Titan. Click to embiggen.

Saturn is rising before sunset, and is is readily visible as the bright yellowish object not far from the bright star Spica. It is high enough for telescopic observation in the early evening. This week Saturn comes very close to the star Porrima (gamma Virginis), being just a quarter of a finger-width from Saturn. They already look beautiful, paired close together.

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. Despite opposition, when Saturn was at its biggest, being well 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 becoming brighter and is now readily visible in binoculars (magnitude 6.5), near iota Capricorni, making it very easy to find. It moves significantly night to night, so will be easy to follow. 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.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.


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