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Tuesday, October 20, 2015


The Sky This Week - Thursday October 22 to Thursday October 29

The Full Moon is Tuesday October 27. Saturn is near the head of the Scorpion and close to the star Graffias on the 25th. Comet C/2013 US10 may be visible in binoculars. In the morning the planet dance continues, Venus is closest to Jupiter on the 26th, with Mars close by. Morning 22nd-23rd, Orionid meteor shower.

The Full Moon is Tuesday October 27. The Moon is at perigee (closest to the Earth) on the 26th.

Evening sky on Sunday October 25 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible  above the western horizon  near the head of the Scorpion . Comet C/2013 US10 is visible in telescopes (and possibly binoculars) very low above the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Saturn is easily visible from twilight very close to (and then in) the head of the constellation of the Scorpion not far from the bright red star Antares. The sight of the distinctive back to front "question mark" constellation of the Scorpion above the horizon, with bright Saturn in its head, is very nice indeed. Saturn has been moving closer to the bright star Graffias (Beta1 Scorpius) over the past few weeks, and comes closest on the 25th, when it is around half a finger width away.

The addition of Saturn to the head of the Scorpion changes it quite a bit.

While Saturn is  readily visible from the end of twilight, there is only a narrow window for telescope observation from around 8:30 until around 9:30 pm as it gets too close to the horizon. This is still a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail, they will remain reasonably visible until midnight.

Comet C/2013 US10 is now just above the horizon, and this will the last week it is visible from the Southern Hemisphere before it comes too close to the sun and enters the northern hemipshere. The window for observation is quite short and it has failed to brighten as we hoped. A black and white spotters map is here.

Early morning sky on Monday October 26 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 ACDST showing Venus, Jupiter and Mars. Venus and Jupiter are at their closest. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter  rises higher in the morning skies, but remains close to the horizon and may require a flat unobstructed horizon  to see it. 

Mars remains low the morning skies this week.  While it is climbing into darker skies it may still require a reasonably unobstructed horizon to see effectively.

Venus is easy to see in the morning twilight. It is a  distinct "half Moon" shape and impressive in a small telescope.

Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the bright stars Regulus and  Procyon form a line in the sky. Over the week Venus comes closer to the pair of Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter and Venus will be closest on the 26th. They will be around a finger width apart, and will just fit in a low power telescope eyepiece.

Venus then moves to a meeting with Mars on the 31st.

Morning sky as seen from Adelaide facing north-east at 4:00 am ACDST on 23 October, the Orionid radiant is indicated with a starburst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at an equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The Orionids are a worthwhile shower that somewhat favours the Southern Hemisphere,best seen between 2-5 am, the radiant, the point where meteors appear to originate from, being just under Betelgueuse, the bright red star in Orion.

If you draw an imaginary line between Procyon and Aldebaran, then drop another imaginary line from Betelgeuse to the horizon, the radiant is just next to the intersection of those two lines. You can see more deatils and viewing tips here.

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


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