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Tuesday, September 18, 2012


The Sky This Week - Thursday September 20 to Thursday September 27

The First Quarter Moon is Sunday September 23. The Earth is also at spring Equinox on the 23rd. Mars, Saturn and the star Spica form a very long triangle in the western evening sky.  In the morning skies Jupiter and Venus can be readily seen amongst some beautiful constellations.

Morning sky on Sunday September 23 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 First Quarter Moon is Sunday September 23. The Earth is also at spring Equinox on the 23rd.

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 morning of the 27th there is a shadow transit and 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, but rapidly moves towards Leo, and the bright star Regulus.

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.

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 Saturday September 22. Mars,  Saturn and the bright star Spica form a long triangle. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.

Saturn is just above the north-western horizon, not far from the bright star Spica. Saturn is only  high enough in the northern sky for telescopic observation for a very short time 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. Now you only have a very short viewing time before Saturn is too low to observe, and telescopic views are even more limited. Saturn sets around 8:30 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 the head of Scorpius the Scorpion.

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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