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Tuesday, February 24, 2015


The Sky This Week - Thursday February 26 to Thursday March 5

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday February 26. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky. Mars is lost in the twilight. Jupiter is the brightest object in the late evening sky and is visited by the waxing Moon on the 3rd. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion. Mercury is prominent in the morning sky .

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday February 26. The Moon is at apogee (furthest from the Earth) on March 5.

Evening sky on Saturday February 28 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:30 (8:30 pm) ACDST in South Australia.  Mars is low in the twilight, with Venus above 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 just above Mars. As the week goes on the pair separate.

Mars  is low in the western twilight sky. Mars is becoming harder and harder to see as it lowers deeper into the twilight, and you may need binoculars to pick it up. By the end of the week it is lost to view.

Evening sky on Saturday February 21 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST showing Jupiter.  The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at 22:00 on the 21st. Jupiter is the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon. (click to embiggen).

 Jupiter  is now easily seen  in the 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).

Jupiter was  at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest in our sky, on 7 February, but it will be an excellent object for may weeks to come.  Jupiter is visible all night and is high enough for decent telescopic observation from around 10 pm, 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.

Jupiter is close to the waxing Moon on March 3.

Morning sky on Sunday March 1 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:00 am ACDST .   Mercury is reasonably high above the horizon. (click to embiggen).

Saturn climbs still higher in the morning sky. It is now easily visible well 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 climbs higher in the morning twilight and should be reasonably easy to see over a hand-span above the horizon an hour before sunrise. It is currently in the constellation of Capricornius.
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Jupiter just past opposition. 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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