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Tuesday, July 15, 2014


The Sky This Week - Thursday July 17 to Thursday July 21

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday July 19. Jupiter is lost in the twilight. Mars and Saturn are prominent in the evening sky. Venus is prominent in the morning sky, and is near Mercury.

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday July 19. Mars is at Quadrature on the 19th.

Evening sky on Saturday July 19 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mars and Spica are close together. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen). The insets show telescopic views of Mars and Saturn at this time,

Jupiter is lost in the twilight.

Mars  is easily seen in the north-western evening sky. It is highest in the sky around 18:00, setting after midnight. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest, on the 9th of April, and is still  readily distinguishable as the bright red/orange object above the north-western horizon in the early evening. Mars is in the constellation of Virgo close to the bright star Spica.

Mars is still worthwhile looking at in a telescope now, although you will need a decent one to see any detail. On the 19th Mars the Earth and the Sun make a 90 degree angle (Eastern Quadrature), and Mars is at its minimum phase, looking distinctly gibbous shaped, Mars is quite small in telescopes now, but the gibbous shape can be clearly seen.

Saturn is high in the evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible most of the night. Saturn is high enough from around 8 pm for decent telescopic observation and sets around 2:15 am.  Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a line with the two brightest stars of Libra.

Morning sky on Sunday July 20 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 am ACST.  Venus forms a triangle with the bright red stars Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. Mercury is close to Venus. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at equivalent local times. (click to embiggen).

Venus is in the morning sky, above the north-eastern horizon.  The brightest object in the morning sky, it is easy to see and although it is past maximum brightness, it will dominate the early morning sky for some time to come.

Venus was at its furthest distance from the Sun on the 23rd of March, and is slowly sinking towards the horizon. Venus is a clear gibbous Moon shape in a telescope. Venus forms a triangle with the bright red stars Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. During the week Venus comes closer to the horizon.

Mercury was at its highest above the horizon on the 13th now it begins to sink towards the morning horizon. While Mercury is nowhere near as bright as Venus, it is clearly the brightest object below Venus. Mercury and Venus slowly draw art this week.

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

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.


Hi, love your blogs on here about the planets and where to find them. I was wondering if you could do a blog about how to find deep-sky objects (Messier objects?) for Australians. Very hard to find online.

G'Day Dale

That's a good idea, I might try a weekly Messier object guide for binoculars/small telescopes

Cheers! Ian
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