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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday October 2 to Thursday October 9

The Full Moon is Wednesday October 8, there is a total Lunar Eclipse at this time. Mercury is still easily visible. Mars climbs the body of the Scorpion. Saturn is low in the evening sky. Jupiter becomes more prominent in the morning sky. Comets everywhere!

The Full Moon is Wednesday October 8. There is a total Lunar Eclipse in the early evening. Daylight saving time starts October 5.

Eastern horizon as seen from Adelaide on 8 October at 8:09 pm ACDST . The eclipse is just starting. Click to embiggen.

On the evening of 8 October there will be a total eclipse of the Moon. The 8 October eclipse occurs shortly after Moonrise in the eastern and central states, in Western Australia the Moon rises with the eclipse under-way and totality occurs during nautical twilight. This is the best Lunar eclipse until 2018.

For the East Coast Moon Rise is around 6:36 pm,the eclipse begins at 7:15 pm AEST, maximum eclipse is at 8:55 pm, total eclipse ends at 9:25 pm and the eclipse finishes at 10:35 pm AEST (daylight savings starts on Oct 5 for those states that use it).

For the Central states Moon Rise is around 6:15 pm (see twilight/sunset calculator below), the eclipse begins at 6:45 pm ACST, maximum eclipse is at 8:25 pm, total eclipse ends at 8:55 pm and the eclipse finishes at 10:05 pm.

For Western Australia Moon Rise is around 6:19 pm (see twilight/sunset calculator below), the eclipse begins at 5:15 pm AWST, so the Moon rises partly eclipsed, sunset is around 6:25 pm occurring with the maximum eclipse at 6:25 pm, nautical twilight ends 7:19 pm total eclipse ends at 7:25 pm, astronomical twilight ends 7:49 pm and the eclipse finishes at 8:35 pm.


More details, timings, and charts can be found here.

Evening sky on Saturday October 4 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 (7:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mercury is the brightest object above the western horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mercury slowly heads towards the horizon in the evening sky but remains readily visible above the western horizon. It is now easy to see from half an hour after sunset to  an hour after sunset, when the  zippy planet is in reasonably dark skies.

The western horizon still has a long string of bright objects making an interesting (if battered) line in the sky. Spica, Mercury, Saturn, Mars and Antares. The line is topped off by the hook that is the tail of the Scorpion, embedded with clusters and nebula (and comet C/2013 A1, see below).

Mercury is easy to see in the early evening. Although it is now heading for the horizon, it still draws  away from Spica.   

Evening sky on Sunday October 5 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 (9:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia. Mars is close to Antares and the Moon. Saturn is  under the head of  Scorpius. Comet C/2013 V5 is now in dark skies and may be visible near Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars  is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting just before midnight. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest, on the 9th of April, and is still  readily distinguishable as the bright red/orange object above the western horizon in the early evening.

Mars is in the constellation of  Scorpius. It starts the week near the red star Antares (which means rival of Mars) then moves above and away as it heads towards the star clouds of Sagittarius. Mars forms a somewhat battered line with Antares, Saturn (and Spica and Mercury) towards the end of the week.

Saturn is in the early western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible  in the early evening, setting just before 10 pm local time. Saturn is still high enough from twilight for decent telescopic observation for a short while.

Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a  line with Mercury, Spica, Mars and Antares.

Comet C/2013 V5 has passed perihelion and is still surviving. It is visible in very strong binoculars and medium sized telescopes as it rises higher into darker skies. While it is leaving behind the twilight the increasing Moonlight will make it more difficult to see this week. More detailed viewing maps suitable for binoculars are here.


Morning sky on Sunday October 5 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACDST.  Jupiter is above the north-east horizon. (click to embiggen).


Venus is lost in the glare of the Sun.

 Jupiter  rises higher in the morning twilight, and now is easy to see above the horizon at twilight. During the week Jupiter climbs higher and becomes easier to see as the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon.

Comet C/2012 K1 Panstarrs is rising higher in the morning sky  and should be readily visible in 10x50 binoculars as a fuzzy dot with a stubby tail.

Evening sky on Sunday October 5 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 (9:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia. Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is in the tail of the Scorpion. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).


Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is high in the the evening sky, and is mow in the tail of the Scorpion. At magnitude 8.8 it is now only visible in a small (or larger) telescope. The comet is located in a beautiful patch of sky, passing through some rich stellar fields. However, it will become hard to see as the Moon waxes. A printable black and white chart suitable for binoculars is here. The large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. On the 5th the comet is binocular range of  Ptolemy's Cluster.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars and  Saturn  prominent in the early evening 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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Thursday, September 25, 2014

 

Total Lunar Eclipse, October 8, 2014

Eastern horizon as seen from Sydney on 8 October at 7:57 pm AEDST. The eclipse is just about to begin. Click to embiggenEastern horizon as seen from Adelaide on 8 October at 8:09 pm ACDST . The eclipse is just starting. Click to embiggenEastern horizon as seen from Perth on 8 October at 6:48 pm AWST. The eclipse is about halfway to totality. Click to embiggen
Above the North-Eastern horizon as seen from Sydney on 8 October at 9:55 pm AEDST. The eclipse is at its maximum extent . Click to embiggenNorth-Eastern horizon as seen from Adelaide on 8 October at 8:55 pm ACDST. The total eclipse has just begun . Click to embiggenEastern horizon as seen from Perth on 8 October at 7:20 pm AWST. The total eclipse is just about to end. Click to embiggen

On the early evening of 8 October there there be a total eclipse of the Moon, the second of two visible from Australia this year (you can see pictures from the April eclipse here). The 8 October eclipse starts at twilight in the eastern and central states and finishes in dark skies. Western Australia sees the Moon rise partly eclipsed, maximum eclipse occurs shortly after civil twilight, and totality finishes after nautical twilight. See timings table below.

You don't need special filters or fancy equipment to watch the lunar eclipse, you just need your eyes and somewhere comfortable to sit and watch. Binoculars or a telescope are a plus, but not necessary.

On the East coast, the eclipse starts after nautical twilight (an hour after sunset), when the sky is quite dark at 7:15 pm AEST (8:15 pm AEDST) and Totality begins after astronomical twilight has finished at 8:25 pm AEST (9:25 pm AEDST), so the Moon will appear to be a burnished copper disk in a dark sky full of stars. As totality fades you will see the stars extinguish.

In the central states the eclipse stars before nautical twilight 6:45 pm ACST (7:45 pm ACDST) and Totality begins after just after astronomical twilight has finished at 7:55 pm ACST (8:55 pm ACDST). They will also see the eclipsed Moon in all its coppery glory and the stars fade as the Moon returns.

In WA, although most of the eclipse occurs in the twilight, it will still be interesting to watch. Moon rises partly eclipsed, and Totality starts just after the sun sets (6:25 pm AWST), and maximum totality is during civil twilight and lasts until just after nautical twilight. The eclipsed Moon at twilight has an entirely different look to a normal rising Moon with the pearly light replaced with a coppery-red glow.

You will need a flat, clear horizon to see the early parts of the eclipse from WA. Otherwise for the rest of the states the eclipse occurs reasonably high in the sky as is good viewing from almost anywhere.

New Zealand sees a lot more of the eclipse.

See here for a map and contact timings in UT for sites outside Australia

City Moonrise Eclipse Start Totality Start Maximum Eclipse Totality End Eclipse End
Adelaide (ACDST) 7:15 pm 7:45 pm 8:55 pm 9:25 pm 9:55 pm 10:05 pm
Alice Springs (ACST) 6:29  pm 6:45 pm 7:55 pm 8:25 pm 8:55 pm 9:05 pm
Auckland (NZT) 6:15 pm 9:14 pm 10:24 pm 10:54 pm 11:24 pm 00:34 am
Brisbane (AEST) 5:41 pm 7:15 pm 8:25 pm 8:55 pm 9:25 pm 10:35 pm
Cairns (AEST) 6:06 pm 7:15 pm 8:25 pm 8:55 pm 9:25 pm 10:35 pm
Canberra (AEDST) 7:02 pm 8:15 pm 9:25 pm 9:55 pm 10:25 pm 11:35 pm
Christchurch (NZT) 6:29 pm 9:14 pm 10:24 pm 10:54 pm 11:24  pm 00:34 am
Darwin (ACST) 6:36 pm 6:45 pm 7:55 pm 8:25 pm 8:55 pm 9:05 pm
Hobart (AEDST) 7:15 pm 8:15 pm 9:25 pm 9:55 pm 10:25 pm 11:35 pm
Melbourne (AEDST) 7:21 pm 8:15 pm 9:25 pm 9:55 pm 10:25 pm 11:35 pm
Perth (AWST) 6:19 pm 5:15 pm 6:25 pm 6:55 pm 7:25 pm 8:35 pm
Rockhampton (AEST) 5:49 pm 7:15 pm 8:25 pm 8:55 pm 9:25 pm 10:35 pm
Sydney (AEDST) 6:52 pm 8:15 pm 9:25 pm 9:55 pm 10:25 pm 11:35 pm
Townsville (AEST) 5:16 pm 7:15 pm 8:25 pm 8:55 pm 9:25 pm 10:35 pm

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 25 to Thursday October 2

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday October 2. Mercury, the bright star Spica and the crescent Moon form a triangle in the sky on the 26th. The crescent Moon then visits Saturn on the 28th. Mars climbs the body of the Scorpion and is close to Antares from the 28th to the 30th. The waxing Moon is close to Mars on the 29th and 30th.  Jupiter becomes more prominent in the morning sky. Comets C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and C/2013 V5 are in the reach of small telescopes.
 
The First Quarter Moon is Thursday October 2.


Evening sky on Saturday September 20 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 (7:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mercury is close to the bright star Spica. Comet C/2013 V5 may be visible in the twilight not far from Mercury. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mercury slowly heads towards the horizon in the evening sky but is still readily visible above the western horizon. It is now easy to see from half an hour after sunset to  an hour and a half after sunset, when the  zippy planet is in dark skies.

The western horizon now has a long string of bright objects making an interesting line in the sky. Mercury, Spica, Saturn, Mars and Antares. The line is topped off by the hook that is the tail of the Scorpion, embedded with clusters and nebula (and comet C/2013 A1, see below).

Mercury is easy to see in the early evening now. although it is now heading for the horizon, it still draws  away from Spica. On the 26th Mercury, Spica and the crescent Moon make an attractive triangle in the evening sky..  

Comet C/2013 V5 is still surviving, but has not yet reached preihelion yet. It is visible in strong binoculars and small telecopes as it rises higher into darker skies. More detailed viewing maps suitable for binoculars are here.

Evening sky on Monday September 29 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 (8:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mars is close to Antares and the Moon. Saturn is  under the head of  Scorpius. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars  is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting just before midnight. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest, on the 9th of April, and is still  readily distinguishable as the bright red/orange object above the western horizon in the early evening.

Mars is in the constellation of  Scorpius. It forms a line with the red star Antares (which means rival of Mars) and Saturn (and Spica and Mercury) at the beginning  of the week. During the it climbs towards Antares, coming closest to the bright red star between the 28th and the 30th. On the 29th and 30 the waxing Moon is close to Mars. .

Saturn is in the early western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible  in the early evening, setting just before 10 pm local time. Saturn is still high enough from twilight for decent telescopic observation for a short while.

Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a  line with Mercury, Spica, Mars and Antares.On the 28th the crescent Moon is close to Saturn.

Morning sky on Saturday September 27 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACST.  Jupiter is above the north-east horizon. (click to embiggen).

Venus is lost in the glare of the Sun.

 Jupiter  rises higher in the morning twilight, and now is easy to see above the horizon at twilight. During the week Jupiter climbs higher and becomes easier to see as the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon.

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is rising higher the the evening sky, being highest around midnight. It is currently located just above the  Southern Cross. At magnitude 8.8 it is now only visible in a small telescope. The comet is located in a beautiful patch of sky, but will become hard to see as the Moon waxes. A printable black and white chart suitable for binoculars is here. The large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars.
Evening sky on Monday September 29 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 (8:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is in the tail of the Scorpion. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars and  Saturn  prominent in the early evening 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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Sunday, September 21, 2014

 

Mercury comes close to Spica , 20 and 21 September, 2014

Evening sky on Friday September 20 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:30 (7:30 pm) ACST in South Australia. (click to embiggen to get a better view)Evening sky on Sunday September 21 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 (7:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. (click to embiggen to get a better view)

Mercury has finally caught up to Spica and passed it. The pair were closest on the 20th, hoever due to fatherly taxi duties I could only get the pair when they were just about to sink into the murk of the horizon. Tonight was better, as Mercury began to pull away from Spica.

In all the ages Mercuy and Spica are the bottom pair, with Mercury on the left. Also in the images are Mars and Saturn. Near the middle right is the pair of alpha Librae with Saturn above it. Then up the top is the two bright objects, the star Dschubba with Mars just above it. the red Star Antares is near the top in both images.

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Mars climbs the Scorpion, September 21, 2014

Evening sky on Sunday September 10 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 (9:00 pm) ACST in South Australia.

Mars is climbing up the Scorpion, heading for a rendezvous with red Antares (click to embiggen).

Stack of 10 x 15 second exposures (Pentax K10, 1600 ASA), stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, then levels adjusted with the GIMP. Comes out a lot more orange than with my Canon point and shoot.

Friday, September 19, 2014

 

Mars leaves Dschubba, September 19, 2014

Evening sky on Friday September 10 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 (9:00 pm) ACST in South Australia.

Mars is climbing away from Dschubba, the middle star in the head of the Scorpion, heading for a rendezvous with red Antares (click to embiggen).

Stack of 10 x 15 second exposures (Canoon IXUS, 400 ASA), stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, then levels adjusted with the GIMP. 

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Mercury closes in on Spica. 19 September 2014

Evening sky on Friday September 19 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 (7:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. (click to embiggen to get a better view)

Three bright planets are in this image.

Mercury is close to the bright star Spica. They are the bottom pair, with Mercury the lowest of the two. Near the middle right is the pair of alpha Librae with Saturn above it. Then up the top is the two bright objects, the star Dschubba with Mars just above it.

Tomorrow Mercury will be at its closest to Spica.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

 

Mars Meets Dschubba, September 18, 2014

Evening sky on Thursday September 18 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:30 (9:30 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mars is close to Dschubba, the middle star in the head of the Scorpion (click to embiggen).

After last nights beautiful clear sky, when I was attending EldestOne and MiddleOne's school dinner, tonight was cloudy and slightly rainy. There was a short break in the cloud when I captured this photo of Mars and the star Dschubbaclose together, giving Scorpio a rather differnt apperance.

I was trying to put together an animation of the close approach, but my plans was partly ruined by several days of cloud. Below is the not so good version I managed to stitch together. The final image in the stack was taken too close to the horizon and under poor cloud conditions to stack properly, sadly. Still not too bad though.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 18 to Thursday September 25

The New Moon is Wednesday September 24. Mercury meets the bright star Spica. Mars enters the head of the Scorpion. Mars and Saturn are prominent in the evening sky forming a line with Mercury and two bright stars. Jupiter becomes more prominent in the morning sky and is visited by the Moon on the 20th. Comets C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and C/2013 V5 are in the reach of small telescopes.
 
The New Moon is Wednesday September 24. The Moon is at apogee (furthest from the Earth) on the 20th.


Evening sky on Saturday September 20 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 (7:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mercury is close to the bright star Spica. Comet C/2013 V5 may be visible in the twilight not far from Mercury. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky and is now readily visible above the western horizon. It is now easy to see from half an hour after sunset to  an hour and a half after sunset, when the  zippy planet is in dark skies.

The western horizon now has a long string of bright objects making an interesting line in the sky. Mercury, Spica, Saturn, Mars and Antares. The line is topped off by the hook that is the tail of the Scorpion, embedded with clusters and nebula (and comet C/2013 A1, see below).

Mercury is easy to see in the early evening now. It is still climbing rapidly in the sky, and will be less than a finger width from Spica, on the 20th and 21st. On the 22nd Mercury will be at its highest in the evening sky, and will head towards the horizon after this.  

Comet C/2013 V5 is brightening but rapidly becomes lost in the morning twilight. If it survives it's passage of the Sun it will reappear on the evening sky by the weekend. It may be visible to the unaided eye, but should be visible in binoculars if it survives. More detailed viewing maps suitable for binoculars are here.



Evening sky on Thursday September 18 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mars is close to Dschubba and Saturn is  under the head of  Scorpius. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars  is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting just before midnight. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest, on the 9th of April, and is still  readily distinguishable as the bright red/orange object above the western horizon in the early evening.

Mars is in the constellation of  Scorpius. It forms a line with the red star Antares (which means rival of Mars) and Saturn (and Spica and Mercury). At the beginning  of the week it is half a finger-width from the middle star of the Scorpions head, Dschubba. Thereafter it climbs towards Antares.

Saturn is in the early western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible  in the early evening, setting just after 10 pm local time. . Saturn is still high enough from twilight for decent telescopic observation for a few hours.

Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a  line with Mercury, Spica, Mars and Antares.

Morning sky on Saturday September 20 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am ACST.  Jupiter is above the north-east horizon and close to the crescent Moon. (click to embiggen).

Venus is lost in the glare of the Sun.

 Jupiter  rises higher in the morning twilight, and now is easy to see above the horizon at twilight. During the week Jupiter climbs higher and becomes easier to see as the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon.

On the mornings of the 20thand 21st the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter.


Evening sky on Saturday September 20 looking West as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is above  the tail of the Scorpion. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is rising higher the the evening sky, being highest around midnight. It is currently located just above the  Southern Cross. While at magnitude 8.4 it should be visible in binoculars, it is likely that you will need a small telescope to see it until the waning Moon leaves the evening sky early in the week. A printable black and white chart suitable for binoculars is here. The large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars.


There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars and  Saturn  prominent in the early evening 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.

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