Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The Sky This Week - Thursday November 29 to Thursday December 6
Morning sky on Sunday December 2 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:15 am local daylight saving time in South Australia. Saturn and Venus are drawing apart, Mercury is just on the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).
The Full Moon is Thursday November 29, at this time there is a penumbral eclipse.
This is for real enthusiasts only, starting at 10:12 pm AEST on the 28th, with maximum at 12:33 AEST on the 29th (add one hour for daylight saving time), you will see only a faint darkening of the northern part of the Moon as it traverses Earth's outer shadow.
Bright white Venus is now quite low above the eastern horizon, and hard to see from cluttered horizons. Venus looks like a waxing Moon when seen through even a small telescope. Venus is in the constellation of Virgo.
Saturn is now visible above the eastern horizon before dawn. Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky and moves away from Venus during the week.
Mercury returns to the morning sky, but is difficult to see in the twilight below Venus. You will need a flat, unobscured horizon (like the ocean) to see it. Mercury is at its furthest from the Sun on the 5th.
Evening sky looking north as seen from Adelaide at 1:00 am local daylight time on Thursday November 29. The Moon is not far from Aldebaran and Jupiter. At this time the penumbral eclipse will be at its darkest. The keen eyed may see a slight darkening of the northern half of the Moon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.
Mars is in the constellation Sagittarius. Mars is now the brightest object in the western sky as the red star Antares, is lost in the twilight. Mars's distinctive red colour makes it relatively easy to spot.
Mars will be in binocular range of M22, one of the finest globular clusters in the sky, for most of the week.
Mars sets shortly after 9:30 pm local daylight saving 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.
Jupiter is still seen above the north-western horizon in the early morning sky. Jupiter is at opposition on December 3, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth.
Jupiter is below the Hyades, between the red star Aldebaran and the dimmer blue white star Elnath, although closer to Aldebaran. Jupiter moves slowly towards Aldebaran during the week, making it look as if the Bull has two eyes.
Jupiter, Aldebaran and the red star Betelgeuse in Orion form a long thin triangle in the sky. With the Pleiades cluster and the constellation of Orion close by, this is a beautiful sight.
Jupiter is easily seen in the late evening sky, rising around 8:30 pm local daylight saving time and is moderately high by midnight. Now is the best time to observe Jupiter with a small (or large) telescope. Jupiters' Moons are easily seen in binoculars, and can be followed from night to night changing position.
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 AEDST, Western sky at 10 pm AEDST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.
Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.
Labels: weekly sky