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Tuesday, July 19, 2011


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

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday July 23. Jupiter is high in the morning sky. Mars heads towards the horns of Taurus the Bull. The Moon visits Jupiter on the 24th and Mars on the 28th. Mercury closes in on the star Regulus. Saturn is drawing away from the star Porrima, gamma Virginis.

Morning sky looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am local time on Sunday July 24 showing the Moon, Jupiter, Mars and the constellations. Mars is close to the "Horns" of the constellation Taurus, the Bull. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday July 23.

In the morning Jupiter is high above the north-eastern sky. Mars is low in the eastern sky, below bright red star Aldebaran, heading towards the stars that form the "horns" of the Taurus the bull. Between July 24 and July 28 Mars is between Elnath and Zeta Tauri, the stars that define the horns.

On Sunday July 24 the waning Moon is near Jupiter, on Tuesday the 26th the crescent Moon is near the star cluster the Pleiades. On Thursday July 28 the crescent Moon is close to Mars.

After dominating the morning sky for months, bright white Venus is now lost in the twilight glow.

Evening sky on Wednesday July 27 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 6:15 pm local time in South Australia showing Mercury near the bright star Regulus. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mercury continues to become more prominent in the evening sky in July. Mercury closes in on the bright star Regulus, and is closest on Wednesday July 27.

Saturn is readily visible as the bright yellowish object not far from the bright star Spica. It is getting lower in the sky, and the window for telescopic observation is narrower. Saturn is still close to the star Porrima (gamma Virginis). They are moving apart, but are still reasonably close together.

Even in small telescopes you can see Saturn's rings and it's moon Titan. Despite being past opposition, when Saturn was at its biggest, Saturn is still big and beautiful.

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 location of Vesta as seen at 9:00 pm on July 23rd looking east from Adelaide, similar views will be seen at equivalent local times elsewhere. Click to embiggen,

The asteroid Vesta is becoming brighter and is now readily visible in binoculars and is just over the threshold of unaided eye visibility (magnitude 5.9). To see it with the unaided eye you will need to be in a dark sky location though.

Vesta is now near zeta Capricorni, making it very easy to find. Zeta Capricorni is the fourth star up and to the right of the brightest star in Capricornus (see image to left). Vesta 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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