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Monday, December 11, 2017


The Sky This Week - Thursday December 14 to Thursday December 21

The New Moon is Monday, December 18. Mercury and Saturn are lost in the  twilight.  Mars is relatively easy to see and  isheading towards Jupiter. Jupiter is now prominent in the morning sky and is heading towards the bright star alpha2 Librae. Jupiter is close to the thin crescent Moon on the 15th. The Geminid meteor shower peaks on the morning of the 14th and is still good on the 15th.

The New Moon is Monday, December 18. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 19th.

Evening sky on Saturday December 16 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST. The summer constellations of Taurus, Orion, Canis Major, Puupis and Carina are above the horizon. The beautiful clusters of the Pleiades and the Southern Pleiades (Theta Carina) are visible as well.(click to embiggen).

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen).

Mercury and Saturn are lost in the twilight.

Morning sky on Friday December 15 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 4:50 ACDST (60 minutes before sunrise). Jupiter is prominent and can be seen close to the crescent Moon, forming a triangle with Mars.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 60 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

Venus  is lost in the twilight.

Jupiter climbs higher in the morning sky and is now becoming prominent. It is moving towards the bright double star alpha2 Librae (Zubenelgenubi). By the end of the week the stellar pair and Jupiter will be less than a finger-width apart, and will fit within the field of view of a telescope eyepiece.

 Mars is now well visible in the morning sky, and is moving away from the bright star Spica towards Jupiter. The pair will be a hand-span apart by the end of the week.

Geminids as seen from Brisbane facing north at 2:00 am AEST. The Geminid radiant is marked with a starburst . (similar views from elsewhere at equivalent local time eg Sydney 3:00 am AEDST, Adelaide 3:30 am).
Similar views will be seen elsewhere at equivalent local times. (click to embiggen).

The Geminids are a fairly reliable meteor and this will be a good year for them with little moon interference.

The radiant doesn't rise until just before midnight (daylight saving time) in most of Australia, so you will still have to disturb your sleep for this one. Australians should see a meteor every two to three minutes under dark skies in the early morning of the 14th, between 1:00 am and 4:00 am local time. The further north you are the better the meteor rates. You can find predictions for your local site at the meteor flux estimator (choose 4 Geminids and date 13-14 December, don't forget to change the year to 2017).

You can find more details on my Geminid page.

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.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/


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