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Thursday, January 03, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday January 3 to Thursday January 10

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday January 5. The Moon Occults Spica on the morning of the 6th. Jupiter is prominent in the evening sky. Saturn is visible high in the morning sky and is visited by the Moon on the 7th. Venus is low on the horizon and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 10th. Comet C/2012 K5 visible in a telescope in the northern sky.

Morning sky as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACDST on January 6 showing the Moon about to occult Spica (click on image to embiggen).

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday January 5. The Moon Occults Spica on the morning of Sunday the 6th. The occulation will be in daylight from most parts of Australia

The bright limb of the Moon covers Spica at 5:26 am ACST Adelaide, 5:20 AEST Brisbane (daylight graze), 6:17 am AEDST Canberra (daylight), 5:50 am AEDST Hobart (daylight), 6:11 am AEDST Melbourne (daylight), 2:26 am AWST Perth and 6:24 am AEDST Sydney (daylight).

With the Moon one day past first Quarter, this event is really best seen with binoculars or a small telescope (especially for the reappareance of the star during daylight). If you have a tripod or other stand for your binoculars, it will be much easier to observe. If observing after Sunrise, please ensure that there is no way for you to accidently glimpse the Sun. Make sure the Sun is well behind a wall or other substantial object.

Morning sky on Thursday January 10 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am local daylight saving time in South Australia. The thin crescent Moon is close to  Venus. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

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 starts the week in the constellation of Ophiuchus, and ends it in Sagittarius.

On the 10th Venus is close to the crescent Moon.

Saturn is now readily visible above the north-eastern horizon before dawn. Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky, becoming easier to see in the morning sky.  In the constellation of Libra, and is visited by the waning Moon on January 7.

Mercury  is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky looking North as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 pm local daylight time on Friday, January 4. The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.  Click to embiggen.

Mars is lost in the twilight, and will return in the morning skies next year.

Jupiter is visible for most of the night, and is the brightest object in the evening sky. Despite opposition having just passed on the December the 3rd, Jupiter is prominent in the north-eastern early evening sky, being quite visible in the twilight. Jupiter is below the Hyades, near the red star Aldebaran. Jupiter remains near Aldebaran during the week, making it look as if the Bull has two eyes.

Jupiter, Aldebaran and the white star Rigel in Orion form a long line 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 5:00 pm local daylight saving time and is highest in the north by 10:30 pm. Now is a perfect time to observe Jupiter with a telescope of any size in the evening. Jupiters' Moons are easily seen in binoculars, and can be followed from night to night changing position.

Location of C/2012 K5 (LINEAR) looking north as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 local daylight saving time, similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at an equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Comet C/2012 K5 LINEAR is a nice little comet that is now visible in Australian skies to the north. See here for a spotting chart suitable for binoculars and small telescopes.

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.


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