Monday, September 7, 2009

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 10 to Thursday September 17

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday September 12. Mercury is visible low in the evening twilight. Jupiter is visible the whole night and is easily seen as the brightest object in the sky. In the morning, Venus and Mars are seen above the eastern horizon before dawn, and are visited by the crescent Moon. In the early morning of Friday September 11 the Moon passes through the Pleiades.

Evening sky looking west at 6:30 pm local time on Sunday September 13. Click to embiggen.

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday September 12.

Mercury is becoming more difficult to see in the western evening twilight(see diagram left). Mercury is below the bright star Spica and is rapidly lowering towards the horizon. By the end of the week it will be almost impossible to see.

Saturn is no longer visible, immersed in the twilight glow.

Jupiter is visible the whole night and is easily seen as the brightest object in the sky. While Jupiter is past opposition, where it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, it is still more than big enough to be appreciated in even the smallest telescope. If you don't have a telescope to view Jupiter, why not go to one of your local Astronomical Societies or Planetariums open nights? Jupiter's Moons are readily visible in binoculars or a small telescope. On Thursday September 10 and Saturday September 12 Jupiter has an interesting alignment of Moons.

Eastern horizon with Venus and the Moon at 5:30 am local time on Thursday morning September 17, click to embiggen.

In the morning, Venus and Mars are readily visible in the eastern sky. Red Mars is in the constellation of Gemini. On Monday September 14 the crescent Moon is just below Mars.

Bright white Venus is close to the horizon, but is still readily visible in the dawn twilight if you have a clear, unobstructed horizon. On Thursday September 17 Venus is near the crescent Moon. During the week Venus comes closer to the horizon.

In between September 14 and 17 the alignment of Mars and Venus with the waning crescent Moon will also be attractive.

A binocular view of the Moon in the Pleaides as seen from Darwin on the morning of September 11 at 00:11 am local time.

In the early hours of the morning of September 11 (between just after midnight to just before 1 am, depending on where you live) The Moon will pass through the Pleiades cluster, occulting several stars, so bright, most very faint. The best views will be in northern Australia (Darwin, Cairns, Cape York). For more information and times for your local areas see the Southern Skywatch occultation table.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm, Western sky at 10 pm. 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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