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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The Sky This Week - Thursday September 26 to Thursday October 3

The Last Quarter Moon is Friday September 27. Mars and Jupiter are prominent in the early morning. The Moon is near Jupiter on the 28th and Mars on October 1st. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky and above Saturn. Mercury rises higher in the evening sky leaving the bright star Spica behind. Comet C/2012 S1 ISON visible in telescopes.

 The Last Quarter Moon is Friday September 27. The Moon is at apogee on the 28th.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 pm local time on Saturday September 28. Venus is quite high in the evening sky above Saturn.  Mercury is above the bright star Spica. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times.  Click to embiggen.

Venus  climbs higher in the evening twilight. It can easily be seen 20 minutes after sunset (indeed, with a little effort you can see it before sunset). The brightest (spectacularly so) object above the western horizon it is visible up to two hours or more after sunset (depending on how flat your western horizon is).

Venus passes through Libra heading for Scorpius. It is a distinct gibbous shape in even small telescopes

Mercury  is now readily visible in the evening twilight. Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky this week heading leaving behind the bright star Spica.

Saturn is still easily visible above the western horizon in the early evening in the constellation of Virgo. Telescopic views of the ringed world are progressively harder as the planet gets lower in the sky and deeper in the twilight. Saturn sets around 8:30 pm local time.

Neptune is currently at opposition, and visible in strong binoculars. Location maps here which can be used in conjunction with the printable PDF maps below. My images with a little point and shoot camera here

Morning sky on Tuesday October 1 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am local time in South Australia. Mars, Jupiter, and Procyon form a long triangle in the morning sky.

Jupiter is close to the star Wassat. The crescent Moon is close to Mars. Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is below Mars, and visible in high end amateur telescopes. The inset shows the view of Jupiter through a telescope at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars, Jupiter and the bright star Procyon start the week forming a triangle in the morning twilight.  Jupiter is in the constellation Gemini. Mars is passing through the constellation Cancer and enters The constellation of Leo.

Mars rises  a still higher in the morning twilight, and is visible before the sky pales substantially. The crescent Moon is close to Mars on October 1. Mars comes closer to the bright star Regulus.

Jupiter is now well above the north-eastern horizon, above and well to to the left of Mars. It is quite easy to see in the morning sky well into the twilight. During the week Jupiter rises higher and comes close to the moderately bright star Wassat. Jupiter's Moons are now readily visible in binoculars.

Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is expected to become very bright in late November Early December. Currently it is visible in modest amateur instruments such as  12" reflecting telescopes. While the comet will be around magnitude 10 at the beginning of October and around 8.6-9 mid October, it is never very high at Astronomical twilight (5 and 7 degrees above the horizon in most of Australia). The horizon murk means that that it will be mid October before the comet is visible in smaller telescopes such as 4" reflectors and late October for strong binoculars.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Venus and 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

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.


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