Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The Sky This Week - Thursday October 2 to Thursday October 9
The Full Moon is Wednesday October 8. There is a total Lunar Eclipse in the early evening. Daylight saving time starts October 5.
On the evening of 8 October there will be a total eclipse of the Moon. The 8 October eclipse occurs shortly after Moonrise in the eastern and central states, in Western Australia the Moon rises with the eclipse under-way and totality occurs during nautical twilight. This is the best Lunar eclipse until 2018.
For the East Coast Moon Rise is around 6:36 pm,the eclipse begins at 7:15 pm AEST, maximum eclipse is at 8:55 pm, total eclipse ends at 9:25 pm and the eclipse finishes at 10:35 pm AEST (daylight savings starts on Oct 5 for those states that use it).
For the Central states Moon Rise is around 6:15 pm (see twilight/sunset calculator below), the eclipse begins at 6:45 pm ACST, maximum eclipse is at 8:25 pm, total eclipse ends at 8:55 pm and the eclipse finishes at 10:05 pm.
For Western Australia Moon Rise is around 6:19 pm (see twilight/sunset calculator below), the eclipse begins at 5:15 pm AWST, so the Moon rises partly eclipsed, sunset is around 6:25 pm occurring with the maximum eclipse at 6:25 pm, nautical twilight ends 7:19 pm total eclipse ends at 7:25 pm, astronomical twilight ends 7:49 pm and the eclipse finishes at 8:35 pm.
More details, timings, and charts can be found here.
Mercury slowly heads towards the horizon in the evening sky but remains readily visible above the western horizon. It is now easy to see from half an hour after sunset to an hour after sunset, when the zippy planet is in reasonably dark skies.
The western horizon still has a long string of bright objects making an interesting (if battered) line in the sky. Spica, Mercury, Saturn, Mars and Antares. The line is topped off by the hook that is the tail of the Scorpion, embedded with clusters and nebula (and comet C/2013 A1, see below).
Mercury is easy to see in the early evening. Although it is now heading for the horizon, it still draws away from Spica.
Mars is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting just before 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 western horizon in the early evening.
Mars is in the constellation of Scorpius. It starts the week near the red star Antares (which means rival of Mars) then moves above and away as it heads towards the star clouds of Sagittarius. Mars forms a somewhat battered line with Antares, Saturn (and Spica and Mercury) towards the end of the week.
Saturn is in the early western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible in the early evening, setting just before 10 pm local time. Saturn is still high enough from twilight for decent telescopic observation for a short while.
Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a line with Mercury, Spica, Mars and Antares.
Comet C/2013 V5 has passed perihelion and is still surviving. It is visible in very strong binoculars and medium sized telescopes as it rises higher into darker skies. While it is leaving behind the twilight the increasing Moonlight will make it more difficult to see this week. More detailed viewing maps suitable for binoculars are here.
Venus is lost in the glare of the Sun.
Jupiter rises higher in the morning twilight, and now is easy to see above the horizon at twilight. During the week Jupiter climbs higher and becomes easier to see as the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon.
Comet C/2012 K1 Panstarrs is rising higher in the morning sky and should be readily visible in 10x50 binoculars as a fuzzy dot with a stubby tail.
Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is high in the the evening sky, and is mow in the tail of the Scorpion. At magnitude 8.8 it is now only visible in a small (or larger) telescope. The comet is located in a beautiful patch of sky, passing through some rich stellar fields. However, it will become hard to see as the Moon waxes. A printable black and white chart suitable for binoculars is here. The large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. On the 5th the comet is binocular range of Ptolemy's Cluster.
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars and Saturn prominent in the early evening 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.
Labels: weekly sky