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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday September 13 to Thursday September 20

The New Moon is Sunday September 16. Mars, Saturn and the star Spica form a triangle in the western evening sky. On the18th the crescent Moon is close to Spica and Saturn. On the 19th and 20th, the Moon is close to Mars. In the morning skies Jupiter and Venus can be readily seen amongst some beautiful constellations.

Morning sky on Sunday September 16 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am local time in South Australia. Jupiter below the Hyades makes a long triangle with the red stars Betelgeuse and Aldebaran. The right inset shows the location of the Moons of Jupiter at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The New Moon  is Sunday September 16.

Jupiter is easily seen in the early morning sky. Jupiter is below the Hyades  and stays in roughly the same position for most of the week.

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

Jupiter's Moons are a delight any-time, but on the mornings of the 19th and 20th  there is a shadow transit of Io. Well worth a look in even a small telescope.

Bright white Venus is still reasonably high above the eastern horizon, but continues sinking lower over the week. Venus looks like a waxing Moon when seen through even a small telescope.

Jupiter, Aldebaran and the red star Betelgeuse in Orion form a long triangle in the sky. Venus, Pollux and Procyon form another triangle.

Venus is in  the constellation of Cancer the Crab, and starts the week is within binocular distance of the Beehive cluster.

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Mars is in the constellation of  Libra. Mars is 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.

At the beginning of the week of the week Mars is within binocular distance of the broad double star Zubenelgenubi (alpha2 Librae). In binoculars red Mars and the white and yellow double star will look beautiful. Mars and Zubenelgenubi are closest on the 15th.

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 7:30 pm local time on Tuesday September 18. Mars,  Saturn and the bright star Spica form a long triangle, with the Moon close to Spica. 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, although not for long.

 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, although you will have only a very short viewing tie before Saturn is too low to observe. Saturn sets around 9:00 pm local time

Mars, Saturn and the bright white star Spica from a long but attractive triangle in the evening sky. Over the week, the triangle becomes larger as Mars moves away from Saturn and Spica and towards Zubenelgenubi (alpha2 Librae).

On the18th the crescent Moon is close to Spica and Saturn. On the 19th and 20th, the Moon is close to Mars.

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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