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Tuesday, June 11, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday June 13 to Thursday June 20

The First Quarter Moon is Monday June 17. Mars rises in the morning twilight. Venus and Mercury come closer together in the evening twilight. Saturn is high in the evening skies and is close to the Moon on the 19th. The Moon occults the bright star alpha Librae 2 on the 20th.

The First  Quarter Moon is Monday June 17.

The evening sky facing east in Sydney on June 20 at 5:05 pm AEST showing the waxing Moon just about to cover alpha2 Librae. (similar views will be seen from other locations at a similar local time eg 5:08 AEST Canberra). The inset shows a telescopic view of the Moon at 5:05 pm AEST, with alpha2 Librae about to go behind the Moon.

The waxing Moon passes in front of the bright alpha2 Librae in the constellation of Libra on the evening of June 20. Alpha2 Librae is a bright white star readily visible to the unaided eye (magnitude 2.8). The occultation will be seen from eastern Australia and South Australia. Everywhere else will see a nice, close approach.

From Adelaide the star reappears from the bright limb at 17:23 ACST. From Brisbane the star reappears at 18:05 AEST (the disappearance behind the dark limb is too deep in the twilight to be really seen).

From Canberra the star disappears behind the dark limb of the Moon at 17:08 AEST, and reappears at 18:08 AEST. From Hobart the star disappears behind the dark limb of the Moon at 17:28 AEST, and reappears at 18:07 AEST.

From Melbourne the star disappears behind the dark limb of the Moon at 17:13 AEST, and reappears at 18:03 AEST. From Sydney the star disappears behind the dark limb of the Moon at 17:06 AEST, and reappears at 18:10 AEST.

With the Moon not far from Full, this event is really best seen with binoculars or a small telescope (especially for the reappearance of the star on the bright limb of the Moon). If you have a tripod or other stand for your binoculars, it will be much easier to observe. Set up about half an hour before the occultation to watch the star dissapear (so you are not mucking around with equipment at the last moment).
Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 17:45 pm local time on Saturday June 15. Venus and Mercury draw closer. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times indicated here.  Click to embiggen.

Venus and Mercury form a line in the evening sky this week. The pair come closer to each other as the

Jupiter is lost in the twilight.

Mercury  is visible above Venus and becomes more visible as it climbs in the evening sky.

Venus also climbs higher in the evening twilight, chasing Mercury. While It is still relatively close to the horizon, and you need a resonably clear, level horizon to see it at its best, it is becoming much easier to see.

Saturn is easily visible above the eastern horizon in the early evening in the constellation of Libra. By 10 pm local time it is high above the northern horizon and very easy to see.This is an excellent time to view this planet in a small telescope, as there will be the least interference from horizon murk and air turbulence.

Saturn, Arcturus and Spica from a broad triangle above the northern horizon.

Opposition (when Saturn is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth) was on April 28. However, Saturn will be a worthwhile evening target for telescopes of any size for several months. The sight of this ringed world is always amazing.

Morning sky on Sunday June 16 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:45 am local time in South Australia. Mars is below the red star Aldebaran in the twilight. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars rises in the twilight, but will be hard to see unless you have a flat, clear horizon.

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 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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