Tuesday, October 8, 2013

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

The First Quarter Moon is Saturday October 12. Mars and Jupiter are prominent in the early morning. Venus is easily visible in the western evening sky with Mercury below it. Saturn lowers in the evening sky. Venus comes close to the bright star Antares. Comet C/2012 S1 ISON visible in telescopes close to Mars.

The First Quarter Moon is Saturday October 12. The Moon is at Perigee on the 11th.

Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 pm ACDST  on Thursday October 17. Venus is quite high in the evening sky above Saturn and Mercury,  with the Moon just above the pair. The insets shows the telescopic view of Venus and Mercury at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times.  Click to embiggen.

Venus  climbs higher in the evening twilight. It can easily be seen 20 minutes after sunset (indeed, with a little effort you can see it before sunset). The brightest (spectacularly so) object above the western horizon it is visible up to two hours or more after sunset (depending on how flat your western horizon is).

Venus traverses the head of the Scorpion and comes close to the bright star Antares. It is a distinct gibbous shape in even small telescopes

Mercury  is now easily visible in the evening twilight. Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky this week heading heading for Saturn. The pair are close on the 7th. Mercury is highest in the sky on the 9th, and will return towards the horizon after this.

Saturn is still visible above the western horizon in the early evening twilight in the constellation of Virgo. Telescopic views of the ringed world are progressively harder as the planet gets lower in the sky and deeper in the twilight. Saturn sets around 9:00 pm local daylight saving time.

Neptune is passed opposition, and still visible in strong binoculars. Location maps here which can be used in conjunction with the printable PDF maps below. My images with a little point and shoot camera here

Morning sky on Tuesday October 15 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am ACST in South Australia. Jupiter is close to the star Wassat. Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is below Mars, and visible in amateur telescopes. The inset shows the view of Jupiter through a telescope at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is in the constellation Gemini. Mars is is in the constellation of Leo.

Mars rises still higher in the morning twilight, and is visible well before twilight.  Mars comes closer to the bright star Regulus and is closest between the15th and 17th .

Jupiter is now well above the north-eastern horizon, above and well to to the left of Mars. It is quite easy to see in the morning sky well into the twilight. During the week Jupiter rises higher and draws away from the moderately bright star Wassat. Jupiter's Moons are now readily visible in binoculars.

Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is expected to become very bright in late November Early December. Currently it is visible in modest amateur instruments such as  12" reflecting telescopes.  The image to the left shows a high power view of the region around Mars with ISON (expanded from the unaided eye view above).

While the comet will be around magnitude 10 at the beginning of October and around 8.6-9 mid October, it is never very high at Astronomical twilight (5 and 7 degrees above the horizon in most of Australia). The horizon murk means that that it will be mid October before the comet is visible in smaller telescopes such as 4" reflectors and late October for strong binoculars.

The comet is just below and to the left of Mars (one degree and 2 arc seconds), making finding it relatively easy. Comet ISON was closest to Mars on October 1, but the orbital geometry means that from Earth it will appear closest on the 15th.

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


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