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Thursday, May 17, 2018

 

Seeing Vesta near M24 (May 2018)

Evening sky on Thursday May 17 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Saturn and Mars are clearly visible above the horizon. The Asteroid Vesta is visible in binoculars to the left (north) of Saturn. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen). Simulated binocular view of the region near Saturn showing the open cluster M24 and Vesta on Thursday May 17 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Vest will be close to M24 for around a week. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The asteroid 4 Vesta is now easily visible in binoculars, and is just under unaided eye visibility. It is brightening towards its opposition on 19 June, when it will be a potentially unaided eye object at magnitude 5.3.

Black and white binocular chart suitable for printing showing the movement of 4 Vesta over the next 30 days. Click to embiggen and print.

Now in Sagittarius, it is skimming along side the open cluster M24. This will look particularly nice in binoculars and wide field telescopes.

Locate Saturn in binoculars and sweep left (north) until you reach an obvious open cluster (M24). Vesta is brighter than most of the stars in the cluster, and starts at the bottom of the cluster, then moves up over subsequent days. 

You may need to watch over several nights to watch it move and confirm its identity. Towards the end of the month the waxing Moon will make the asteroid harder to see.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday May 17 to Thursday May 24

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday, May 22.  Venus is high in the twilight and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 17th and 18th. On May 21 Venus is close to the bright cluster M35. Jupiter is just past opposition, but is still big and bright in telescopes. Venus is setting as Jupiter is rising. Mars and Saturn are visible in the late evening skies. Saturn is close to the globular cluster M22. Asteroid Vesta passes through M24. Mercury is still prominent in the morning skies.

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday, May 22. The Moon is at Perigee, when it is closest to the Earth, on the 18th.

Evening twilight sky on Friday May 18 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:16 ACST (60 minutes after sunset). Venus is below the the crescent Moon.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Venus is now high in the twilight. Venus is visible to the unaided eye from 10 minutes after sunset, easy to see 30-60 minutes after sunset and can potentially be viewed  90 minutes after sunset.

Evening sky on Saturday May 19 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST. Jupiter is  high above the horizon, Saturn and Mars are clearly visible. the Asteroid Vesta is visible in binoculars near Saturn

The inset to the left  is a simulated telescopic view of Jupiter and its moons at 23:00 ACST, on the 20th with Io and its shadow passing across the face of Jupiter. The inset to the right is a simulated telescopic view of Saturn and the globular cluster M22.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).



Binocular view of the region near Saturn showing the open cluster M24 and Vesta on Saturday May 19 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


Vesta is now bright enough to be easily seen in binoculars. It is travelling through the southern edge of the open cluster M24. It is brighter than most of the stars in the cluster, but you may need to watch over several nights to watch it move.


Morning sky on Saturday May 19 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:08 ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). Mercury is the brightest object closest to the eastern horizon. The inset shows a simulated telescopic view of Mercury.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise).



 Venus  is now sufficiently high in the evening twilight to be readily visible above the horizon. It is one and a half hand-spans above the horizon 60 minutes after sunset. It is bright enough to be visible 10 minutes after sunset and easy to see up to 60 minutes after sunset. Venus can potentially be viewed 90 minuets after sunset if you have a flat, unobstructed horizon.

Venus is visited by the crescent Moon on the 17th and 18th. It then approaches the bright open cluster M35, best viewed with binoculars at this time, Venus is closest to the cluster on the 21st, but its brightness may wash out the dimmer stars of the cluster.

Mercury is still  prominent the morning sky, although it is now heading towards the horizon. It is still in an good position for observation and is the brightest object above the eastern horizon. Mercury is still high enough for telescope observation. In even a small telescope the "gibbous moon" shape of Mercury will be visible.

Jupiter  is rising in the early evening as Venus is setting. It was at Opposition on the 9th, and is still visible all night long. It is  a good telescopic object in the late evening. There are some good Jovian Moon events this week. Over the week Jupiter comes closer to the bright star alpha Librae (Zubenelgenubi)

 Mars is in Sagittarius the archer and is now rising in the late evening. Mars is moving away from Saturn although the pair are still obvious.  Mars is brightening ahead of opposition later this year.

Saturn is climbing higher the evening sky, although telescopically it is still best in the morning sky. It is within binocular range of several attractive clusters and nebula. It is close to the bright globular cluster M22 and the pair are visible in binoculars and wide field telescope eyepieces.

The asteroid Vesta is now bright enough to be easily seen in binoculars. It is travelling through the southern edge of the open cluster M24. It is brighter than most of the stars in the cluster, but you may need to watch over several nights to watch it move and be sure of its identity.

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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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday May10 to Thursday May 17

The New Moon is Tuesday, May 15.  Venus is high in the twilight and passes between the horns of Taurus the bull on the 14th  and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 17th. Jupiter is just past opposition, but is still big and bright in telescopes. Venus is setting as Jupiter is rising. Mars and Saturn are visible in the late evening skies. Saturn is closest to the globular cluster M2 on the 15th. Mercury is prominent in the morning skies and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 14th.

The New Moon is Tuesday, May 15.

Evening twilight sky on Thursday May 17 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:17 ACST (60 minutes after sunset). Venus is to the right of the the bthin crescent Moon.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (45 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Venus is rising still higher in the twilight. Venus is visible to the unaided eye from 10 minutes after sunset, easy to see 30 minutes after sunset and can potentially be viewed later than an hour after sunset.

Evening sky on Saturday May 12 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST. Jupiter is  high above the horizon, Saturn and Mars are clearly visible and the waning Moon is between Mars and Saturn.

The inset to the left  is a simulated telescopic view of Jupiter and its moons at 2:00 ACST, with Io about to enter eclipse by Jupiter. The inset to the right is a simulated telescopic view of Saturn and the globular cluster M22.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


Morning sky on Monday May 14 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:04 ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). Mercury is the brightest object closest to the eastern horizon and the thin crescnt Mon is close  by. The inset shows a simulated telescopic view of Mercury.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise).



 Venus  is now sufficiently high in the evening twilight to be readily visible above the horizon if there are not too many trees or buildings in the way. It is  now one and a half hand-spans above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset. It is bright enough to be visible 10 minutes after sunset and easy to see 30 minutes after sunset. Venus can potentially be viewed after an hour after sunset if you have a flat, unobstructed horizon.

Venus passes between the horns of Taurus the bull on the 14th  and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 17th.

Mercury is prominent the morning sky, and now is in an excellent position for observation and is the brightest object above the eastern horizon. Mercury is now high enough for telescope observation. In even a small telescope the "half moon" shape of Mercury will be visible. On the 14th Mercury is close to the thin crescent Moon.

Jupiter  is rising in the early evening as Venus is setting. It was at Opposition on the 9th, it is visible all night long  and is  a good telescopic object in the late evening. There are some good Jovian Moon events this week.

 Mars is in Sagittarius the archer and is now rising in the late evening. Mars is moving away from Saturn although the pair are still obvious together.   Mars is brightening ahead of opposition later this year.

Saturn is climbing higher the evening sky, although telescopically it is still best in the morning sky. It is within binocular range of several attractive clusters and nebula. It is close to the bright globular cluster M22 and the pair are visible in binoculars and wide field telescope eyepieces. Saturn is closest to the globular cluster M2 on the 15th.

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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Monday, May 07, 2018

 

eta Aquarid Meteor Shower 7-9 May, 2018

Morning sky on Tuesday May 7 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am local time in South Australia showing the eta Aquariid meteor shower radiant as a star burst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).
 
The eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the morning of 7 May in Australia, although better rates will be seen on the mornings of the 8th and 9th. as the Moon wanes.


The eta Aquariids meteor shower, the debris from Halleys comet, will peak on May 6-7 UT , which is  May 7-8 in Australia.  However, the best rates will be seen from Australia on the mornings of the 8th and 9th.

This year conditions are less than perfect for seeing the eta Aquarids, with the Moon heading towards last quarter and near the radiant. People in the suburbs should see a meteor around once every 6 minutes, and in the country about once every 3 minutes. The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4 am (see spotter chart at 4 am above).

You may have read that this year the eta Aquariids have a predicted ZHR of 50 meteors. The figure ZHR is zenithal hourly rate. This is the number of meteors that a single observer would see per hour if the shower's "point of origin", or radiant, were at the zenith and the sky were dark enough for 6.5-magnitude stars to be visible to the naked eye.

In practise, you will never see this many meteors as the radiant will be some distance below the zenith. Also, unless you are out deep in the countryside, the darkness will be less than ideal. As well, this year there is substantial Moonlight interference, which will was out many meteors. How many are you likely to see in reality? I discuss this further down, lets talk about when to see them first.

Although the actual peak is on 6-7th, for Australia the best time to see the eta-Aquarids is in the early morning of the 7th, 8th and 9th. This year the waning Moon will interfere significantly.

How many will be seen on the 7th is not entirely clear (see prediction below, but they are only predictions), but good rates were seen in 2016, and dark sky sites may possibly see one meteor every six minutes or so. There were many bright ones reported with persistent trains in 2014. People in the suburbs may be will see less, but at least one every 10 minutes should be possible. Rates should be  much the same on the 8th and the 9th.

The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4 am (see above for a spotter chart at 5 am). When looking, be sure to let your eyes adjust for at least 5 minutes so your eyes can be properly adapted to the dark. Don't look directly at the radiant site, because the meteors will often start their "burn" some distance from it, but around a handspan up or to the side. The best way to watch the Eta Aquariids is to let your eye rove around the entire patch of the sky above the north-east horizon, between the only two obvious bright stars in the north-east, Altair and Fomalhaut.

Be patient, although you should see an average of a meteor every six to ten minutes, a whole stretch of time can go by without a meteor, then a whole bunch turn up one after the other.

Make yourself comfortable, choose an observing site that has little to obstruct the eastern horizon, have a comfortable chair to sit in (a banana lounger is best), or blankets and pillows. Rug up against the cold.  A hot Thermos of something to drink and plenty of mosquito protection will complete your observing preparations. As well as meteors, keep an eye out for satellites (see Heavens Above for predictions from your site).


Use the NASA  meteor shower flux estimator for an estimate of what the shower will be like from your location (you may need to enter your longitude and latitude, surprisingly, while Adelaide and Brisbane are hard wired in, Sydney and Melbourne are not). See the image to the left for typical output. The peak is rather sharp.





Unfortunately, both Chrome and Firefox have changed their security settings to prevent plugins from running, and the flux estimator only runs under Internet Explorer now.

You need to choose 31 Eta Aquariids and remember to set the date to  7-8 or 8-9 May 2018 and turn off daylight saving time. You can follow the progress of the shower at the IMO live Aquariid site.

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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Wednesday, May 02, 2018

 

Southern Skywatch May 2018 edition is now out!

Evening sky on Saturday May 5 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST  . Jupiter is  high above the horizon, Saturn and Mars are clearly visible and the waning Moon is between Mars and Saturn.

The inset to the left  is a simulated telescopic view of Jupiter and its moons at this time, with Io reappearing from occultation by of Jupiter. The inset to the right is a simulated telescopic view of Saturn and the globular cluster M22.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

The May edition of Southern Skywatch is now up.

This month still sees most of the planetary action in the evening sky. Speedy Mercury is at its best in the morning sky but Venus and Jupiter become more prominent in the evening sky and Mars and Saturn rise higher in the late evening sky.

Jupiter is at opposition on the 9th, and is close to the Moon on the 27th.

 Mars is closest to M75 on the 14-15th

Saturn is close to the globular cluster M22 this month and is closest on the 15th.

May 27; Moon close to Jupiter. May 5; Mars, Saturn  and Moon close

May 6; Moon at Apogee.   May 18 Moon at Perigee.




May 7-9, Eta Aquarid meteor shower.

May 14, Crescent Moon close to Mercury in the twilight.

May 17-18, Crescent Moon near Venus

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Tuesday, May 01, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday May 3 to Thursday May 10

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday, May 8.  Venus is high in the twilight and starts the week near the bright star Aldebaran. Jupiter is at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on the 9th. Venus is setting as Jupiter is rising. Mars and Saturn are visible in the late evening skies. The Moon visits Saturn on the 4th and Mars on the 6th. Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the mornings of 7th-8th. Mercury is prominent in the morning skies.

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday, May 8.

Evening twilight sky on Saturday May 5 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:26 ACST (60 minutes after sunset). Venus is to the right of the the bright star Aldebaran.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (45 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Venus is rising still higher in the twilight. Venus is visible to the unaided eye from 10 minutes after sunset, easy to see 30 minutes after sunset and can potentially be viewed later than an hour after sunset.

Evening sky on Saturday May 5 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST  . Jupiter is  high above the horizon, Saturn and Mars are clearly visible and the waning Moon is between Mars and Saturn.

The inset to the left  is a simulated telescopic view of Jupiter and its moons at this time, with Io reappearing from occultation by of Jupiter. The inset to the right is a simulated telescopic view of Saturn and the globular cluster M22.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


Morning sky on Saturday May 5 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:58 ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). Mercury is the brightest object closest to the eastern horizon. The inset shows a simulated telescopic view of Mercury.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise).





Morning sky on Tuesday May 7 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am local time in South Australia showing the eta Aquariid meteor shower radiant as a star burst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).
The eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on the morning of 7 May in Australia, although good rates will be seen on the mornings of the 8th and 9th.

The eta Aquarids are debris from Halleys comet. The radiant rises around 2 am May 7. But the best viewing is between around 4 and 5 am, when Aquarius is fairly high above the horizon and the crescent Moon is low. You may see between 1-3 meteors every 5 minutes at this time. The radiant of the shower is about five hand-spans up from the eastern horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due east at 4 am (see diagram above). You will also see decent rates on the 8th and 9th. However the waning Moon will reduce the number of meteors seen.

 Venus  is now sufficiently high in the evening twilight to be readily visible above the horizon if there are not too many trees or buildings in the way. It is  now one and a half hand-spans above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset. It is bright enough to be visible 10 minutes after sunset and easy to see 30 minutes after sunset. Venus can potentially be viewed after an hour after sunset if you have a flat, unobstructed horizon.

Venus starts the week near the bight red Star Aldebaran. Venus is closest to Aldebaran on Thursday May 3, then draws away as it moves between the sarts that form the "horns" of Taurus the Bull.

Mercury is prominent the morning sky, and now is in an excellent position for observation and is the brightest object above the eastern horizon. Mercury is now high enough for telescope observation. In even a small telescope the "half moon" shape of Mercury will be visible.

Jupiter  is rising in the early evening as Venus is setting. It is at Opposition on the 9th, when it is visible all night long  and is  a good telescopic object in the late evening. There are some good Jovian Moon events this week.

 Mars is in Sagittarius the archer and is now rising in the late evening. Mars is moving away from Saturn although the pair are still obvious together.   Mars is brightening ahead of opposition later this year. On the 5th The Moon is between Mars and Saturn, and on the 6th the waning Moon is close to Mars.

Saturn is climbing higher the evening sky, although telescopically it is still best in the morning sky. It is within binocular range of several attractive clusters and nebula. It is close to the bright globular cluster M22 and the pair are visible in binoculars and wide field telescope eyepieces. On the 4th The waning Moon is close to Saturn and on the 5th The Moon is between Mars and Saturn.

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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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday April 26 to Thursday May 3

The Full Moon is Monday, April 30.  Venus is high in the twilight and passes below the Hyades cluster and the bright star Aldebaran. Jupiter is now rising in the early evening skies and is visited by the Moon on the 30th. Venus is setting as Jupiter is rising. Mars and Saturn are now visible in the late evening skies. Mercury is prominent in the morning skies.

 The Full Moon is Monday, April 30.

Evening twilight sky on Thursday April 26 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:20 ACST (45 minutes after sunset). Venus is just above the Pleiades in the twilight, and below the Hyades. and the bright star Aldebaran. The inset shows the binocular view of Venus and the Pleiades.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (45 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Venus is rising higher in the twilight. Venus is visible to the unaided eye from 15 minutes after sunset, easy to see 30 minutes after sunset and can potentially be viewed as late as an hour after sunset if you have a flat, unobstructed horizon.

Evening sky on Monday April 30 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 19:05 ACST  (90 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is  above the horizon close to the full Moon.

The inset is a simulated telescopic view of Jupiter and its moons at 04:00 ACST on the 30th, with Ganymede and its shadow transiting the face of Jupiter.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Evening sky on Saturday April 28 looking east  as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST. Mars and Saturn are above the eastern horizon. The inset is a simulated telescopic view of Saturn and the globular cluster M22.


Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise).



Morning sky on Saturday April 28 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:45 ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). Mercury is the brightest object closest to the eastern horizon. The inset shows a simulated telescopic view of Mercury.


Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise).




 Venus  is now sufficiently high in the evening twilight to be readily visible above the horizon if there are not too many trees or buildings in the way. It is  now one and a half hand-spans above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset. It is bright enough to be visible 15 minutes after sunset and easy to see 30 minutes after sunset. Venus can potentially be viewed as late as an hour after sunset if you have a flat, unobstructed horizon.

Venus starts the week just above the beautiful cluster the Pleiades, but in the twilight glow you will need binoculars to see the Pleiades. As the week progresses Venus leaves the Pleiades behind and glides past the V shaped Hyades cluster and the bight red Star Aldebaran. Venus is closest to Aldebaran on Thursday May 3.



Mercury has returned to the morning sky, and now is in an excellent position for observation. Mercury is the brightest object above the eastern horizon. Mercury is now high enough for telescope observation. In even a small telescope the "half moon" shape of Mercury will be visible.

Jupiter  is rising in the early evening, and is now a good telescopic object in the late evening. There are some good Jovian Moon events this week. Jupiter is at opposition next week, and is in an excellent position for telescopic observation. Jupiter is rising as Venus is setting.

 Mars is in Sagittarius the archer and is now rising in the late evening. Mars is moving away from Saturn although the pair are still obvious together.   Mars is brightening ahead of opposition later this year.

Saturn has entered the evening sky, although telescopically it is still best in the morning sky. It is within binocular range of several attractive clusters and nebula. It is close to the bright globular cluster M22 and the pair are visible in binoculars and wide field telescope eyepieces.

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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