Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The Sky This Week - Thursday September 25 to Thursday October 2
The First Quarter Moon is Thursday October 2.
Mercury slowly heads towards the horizon in the evening sky but is still readily visible above the western horizon. It is now easy to see from half an hour after sunset to an hour and a half after sunset, when the zippy planet is in dark skies.
The western horizon now has a long string of bright objects making an interesting line in the sky. Mercury, Spica, 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 now. although it is now heading for the horizon, it still draws away from Spica. On the 26th Mercury, Spica and the crescent Moon make an attractive triangle in the evening sky..
Comet C/2013 V5 is still surviving, but has not yet reached preihelion yet. It is visible in strong binoculars and small telecopes as it rises higher into darker skies. More detailed viewing maps suitable for binoculars are here.
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 forms a line with the red star Antares (which means rival of Mars) and Saturn (and Spica and Mercury) at the beginning of the week. During the it climbs towards Antares, coming closest to the bright red star between the 28th and the 30th. On the 29th and 30 the waxing Moon is close to Mars. .
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.On the 28th the crescent Moon is close to Saturn.
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/2013 A1 Siding Spring is rising higher the the evening sky, being highest around midnight. It is currently located just above the Southern Cross. At magnitude 8.8 it is now only visible in a small telescope. The comet is located in a beautiful patch of sky, but 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.
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.
Labels: weekly sky