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Tuesday, March 12, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday March 14 to Thursday March 21

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday March 20. Comet 2011 L4 PanSTARRS is now lost to view. Jupiter is prominent in the early evening sky and is close to the waxing Moon on the 18th. Saturn is in the late evening sky. Last week to see comet C/2012 F6 (Lemmon). Mercury brightens in the morning skies.

Sky on Saturday March 17 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 local daylight saving time in South Australia. The inset shows a telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The First Quarter Moon is Wednesday March 20

Saturn is now visible above the eastern horizon before midnight. Saturn is in the constellation of Libra. Saturn climbs higher in the evening sky during the week, becoming easier to see.

Saturn is still better telescopically in the early morning.

Mercury  becomes more prominent in the morning skies this week. It will be seen low in the western twilight sky before dawn.

Bright white Venus  is lost in the twilight.

Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS has been lost to sight from southern skies, it is now a northern hemisphere object, it is also in the field of view of the STEREO spacecraft.

Evening sky looking North-west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 pm local daylight saving time on Monday March 18. The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the times indicated here.  Click to embiggen.

Jupiter is visible all evening, and is the brightest object in the evening sky.

Jupiter is prominent in the northern early evening sky, being quite visible in the twilight. Jupiter is highest in the north by 6:30 pm, setting before midnight. 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.

Now is still a good 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.

Mars is lost in the twilight.

Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon's location as seen from Adelaide at 20:30 ACDST on Saturday 17 March.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand at equivalent local times.  (click to embiggen).

Comet  C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) is just visible to the unaided eye in dark sky sites, and is a nice little binocular comet. In binoculars it is a fuzzy disk a bit smaller than the globular cluster 47 Tucanae showing a small tail.

You will need to use binoculars in suburban locations  and to see it at its best you need a telescope or binoculars. This will be the last week to glimpse this comet before it comes too close to the horizon for viewing.

For charts, printable spotters maps and observing hints, see this page.

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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