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Tuesday, April 16, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday April 18 to Thursday April 25

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday April 18. Jupiter is low in the early evening sky. Saturn becomes more prominent in the late evening sky with opposition next week. The Moon is close to Saturn on the 26th. Mercury is bright low in the morning skies. Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon is above Mercury in the morning skies. Uranus comes close to Mercury.

Sky on Wednesday April 26 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 local 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 Last Quarter Moon is Thursday April 18.

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

With opposition (when Saturn is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth) next week, Saturn is a worthwhile evening target for telescopes of any size. The sight of this ringed world is always amazing.

Morning sky on Sunday April 21 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am local time in South Australia showing Mercury, Uranus and comet Lemmon. The inset shows a binocular view of Mercury and Uranus at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mercury  is still prominent low in the morning skies this week, although it is sinking towards the horizon. It is still easy to see as the brightest object above the eastern twilight sky an hour before dawn.

The planet Uranus is within a binocular field of Mercury from the 20th to the 22nd, being closest on the 21st. The dim world Uranus is actually easily seen in binoculars if you know where to look, and this close pairing with Mercury will make it easy to spot.

Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon is in the morning skies near Mercury. At around magnitude 6, you will need binoculars to see it clearly. The comet starts the week within a binocular field above Mercury, then progressively moves higher as the week passes.

Bright white Venus  is lost in the twilight.

Mars is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 pm local time on Saturday April 20. The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times indicated here.  Click to embiggen.

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

Jupiter is prominent low in the western early evening sky, being quite visible in the twilight.  Jupiter is moving away from the Hyades, but is still near the red star Aldebaran.

Jupiter, Aldebaran and the red star Betelgeuse in Orion form a long triangle in the sky. With the Pleiades cluster and the constellation of Orion close by, this is a beautiful sight.

Jupiter is setting progressively earlier, by 8:00 pm local time, so the giant world is harder to see in a telescope. Jupiters' Moons are easily seen in binoculars, and can be followed from night to night changing position, but with a narrow window between twilight and Jupiter setting, you won't have time to see much action..

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Saturn so prominent in the sky.  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. Especially during the school holidays.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pmAEST. 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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