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Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The Sky This Week - Thursday January 29 to Thursday February 5

The Full Moon is Wednesday February 4. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky. Mars is just visible in the early evening twilight and is coming closer to Venus. Jupiter is visible in the late evening sky and is visited by the Moon on February 4. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion.

The Full Moon is Wednesday February 4.

Evening sky on Saturday January 31 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 (9:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia.  Mars is low in the twilight, with Venus below it. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Venus is easy to see low above the western horizon in the twilight. At civil twilight, half an hour after sunset, it is around one and a half hand-spans above the horizon. Venus is also a hand-span below Mars.

Mars  is still seen low in the western evening sky, setting around 10:00 pm daylight saving time (just as twilight ends). Mars is becoming harder and harder to see as it lowers deeper into the twilight.

As the week goes on Mars and Venus approach each other, the pair will be closest on the  22nd.

Evening sky on Wednesday February 4 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST showing Jupiter.  The Full Moon is close to Jupiter at this time. The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at 22:00  on the 2nd. Jupiter is the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon. (click to embiggen).

 Jupiter  is now easily seen  in the late evening sky. It is the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon when twilight ends. It is not far from the bright star Regulus in the sickle of Leo (this forms the head of the constellation of the  Lion). On February 4th the Moon provides a guide yo Jupiter, forming a triangle with Jupiter and the bright star Regulus (Jupiter is obviously brighter than Regulus in this triangle)

Jupiter is high enough for telescopic observation just before midnight, although its visibility will improve in the coming weeks. Jupiter's Moons will be putting on a good display in both binoculars and small telescopes. On the 2nd Ganymede and its shadow transits the face of Jupiter for around the end of twilight for about an hour.

Morning sky on Sunday February 1 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACDST .   Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion, not far from Antares at this time. (click to embiggen).

Saturn climbs still higher in the morning sky. It is now easily visible before twilight near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion not far from the bright red star Antares. The sight of the distinctive constellation of the Scorpion curled above the horizon, with bright Saturn in its head, is very nice indeed.

Mercury  returns to the morning sky this week, but is low in the twilight and will be too hard to see. However, in the coming weeks Mercury will be putting on a decent display.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with the comet 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 AEDST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.


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