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Tuesday, July 31, 2012


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

The Full Moon is Thursday August 2. Mars, Saturn and the star Spica form a triangle in the north-western sky. In the morning skies Jupiter and Venus can be seen near each other forming a triangle with the red star Aldebaran.

Morning sky on Sunday August 5 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am local time in South Australia. Jupiter is in the Hyades not far from Venus , making a long triangle with the red star Aldebaran.The Pleiades cluster is close by. The left  inset shows the telescopic view of Venus. The right inset shows the location of the Moons of Jupiter on the 3rd at the same time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The Full Moon is Thursday August 2.

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and is now easy to see. Jupiter moves through the Hyades over the week. Early in the week Jupiter forms a second eye for Taurus the Bull.  Jupiter and Venus form a long triangle with the red star Aldebaran.

With the Pleiades cluster and the constellation of Orion close by, this is a beautiful morning sight. 

Jupiter's Moons are a delight anytime, but on the morning of the 3rd Jupiter's satellites play hide and seek with a transit of Io, an eclipse of Europa and Ganymede reappearing from eclipse. Well worth a look in even a small telescope.

Bright white Venus climbs higher above the horizon this week. Venus looks like the waxing Moon when seen through even a small telescope.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Mars is in the constellation of Virgo. It's brightest object in the north-western sky, and its distinctive red colour makes it easy to spot. Mars sets shortly after 10:30 pm local time.

Mars was at opposition on March 4, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. Sadly, this is a poor opposition and Mars will be fairly small in modest telescopes.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 10:00 pm local time on Sunday August 5 (when Curiosity arrives at Mars). Mars, Venus and the bright star Spica form a triangle. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.

Saturn is above the north-western horizon, not far from the bright star Spica. Saturn is still high enough in the northern sky for telescopic observation in the early evening. Saturn was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on the 16th of April, but now is still a good time for telescopic views of this ringed world in the early evening.

Mars, Saturn and the bright white star Spica from an attractive triangle in the evening sky. Over the wekk, the triangle becomes smaller as Mars closes in on Saturn and Spica.

With Saturn still reasonably high in the sky, there are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. 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.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. 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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