Wednesday, October 23, 2013
The Sky This Week - Thursday October 24 to Thursday October 31
The Last Quarter Moon is Sunday October 27. Moon is at apogee on the 25th.
Venus climbs higher in the evening twilight. It can easily be seen shortly 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 three hours or more after sunset (depending on how flat your western horizon is).
Venus starts the week close to the bright star Antares and continues its journey up the body of the Scorpion into the constellation Ophiuchus. It is a distinct half moon shape in even small telescopes
Mercury is still easily visible in the evening twilight. Mercury is lower in the evening sky this week heading towards the horizon, but remains reasonably visible for the rest of the week.Mercury is a crescent in telescopes.
Saturn is still visible above the western horizon in the early evening twilight in the constellation of Virgo. It is now too low in the twilight for telescopic views, and will be effectively lost to sight by the end of the week.
Jupiter is in the constellation Gemini. Mars is is in the constellation of Leo.
Mars rises still higher in the morning twilight, and is visible well before twilight. Mars starts the week not far from the bright star Regulus and continues to draw away during the week. Mars is also not far from comet C/2012 S1 ISON.
The crescent Moon is near Mars on the 30th.
Jupiter is now well above the north-eastern horizon near the bright stars Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini. It is quite easy to see in the morning sky well into the twilight. Jupiter's Moons are now readily visible in binoculars.
The Moon visits Jupiter on the 26th.
Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is continuing to brighten. Currently it is visible in modest amateur instruments such as 8" reflecting telescopes and has been imaged with DSLR cameras at high ISO values.
The image to the left shows a high power view of the region around Mars with ISON (expanded from the unaided eye view above).
While the comet is somewhere around magnitude 9-10, the bright Moonlight making magnitude estimation hard. It is never very high at Astronomical twilight (5 and 7 degrees above the horizon in most of Australia). While the comet should be visible in smaller telescopes such as 4" reflectors and strong binoculars, the proximity of the bright Moon makes spotting the comet difficult. You can get a PDF map suitable for printing here.
The comet is to the right of Mars, theoretically making finding it relatively easy, but the Moon interference (see above) makes it hard to distinguish.
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Venus 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.
Labels: weekly sky
Don't try this unless you're certain almost all of the sun's energy has been filtered out !