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Friday, September 04, 2015

 

Southern Skywatch September, 2015 edition is now out!

The Moon looking north-west at 7:00 pm ACST in Adelaide on 15 September. Mercury Spica and the Moon form a triangle in the sky. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.

The September edition of Southern Skywatch is now up.  This month features some nice planetary  planetary action this month with Mercury close to Spica, and Vensu, Mars and Jupiter forming a line in the morning sky. Comet C/2013 US10 may become easy to see in binoculars.

Jupiter enters the morning twilight mid month.

Mars is just visible low in the early morning sky. 

Saturn is in the western evening sky.

Venus is prominent in the morning twilight and is close to the crescent Moon on the 10th. Towards the end of the month it forms a line with Mars and Jupiter

Mercury is prominent in the evening sky in the first half of the month and is forms a triangle with Spica and the Moon on the 15th.

Comet C/2013 US10 is brightening and may become visible in binoculars towards the end of the month.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

 

A Series of Bright ISS passes Wednesday 2 September - Monday 8 September 2015

The ISS passes between Arcturus and Vega, as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Wednesday September 2 at 19:22 ACST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes near Spica and Mercury, as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Friday September 4 at 19:14 ACST. After this it passes over Hadar (Beta Centauri) Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing times from Heavens Above for Wednesday 2 September for Adelaide.All sky chart showing times from Heavens Above for Friday September 4 for Adelaide.

This week there are a series of bright evening passes of the International Space Station. In some places in Australia it comes close to Mercury later in the week. After this it glides either through the pointers or over the pointers, depending on where you are.

When and what you will see is VERY location dependent, so you need to use either Heavens Above or CalSky to get site specific predictions for your location. Even the difference between the city centre and the suburbs can mean the difference between seeing the ISS go over Hadar or between Hadar and Rigel Kent, let alone the differences between cities in different states.

Start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, on the night there may be slight differences in the time of the  ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions.

If you are trying to take pictures, make sure you have a tripod and have the camera in night mode (or a mode were you can take exposures of around 5 minutes), if you can set the camera to take multiple exposures unattended that would be best.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

 

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

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday September 5. Mercury is at its highest in the evening twilight. Saturn is near the head of the Scorpion. Mars is visible low in the morning twilight. Venus climbs higher in the morning twilight and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 10th.

The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday September 5.

Early evening sky on Saturday September 5 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing Mercury.

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


Mercury climbs higher into the evening sky, becoming readily visible in the late twilight as the brightest object above the western horizon. It is at its highest in the early evening sky on the 4th. This and next week will be the best time to watch this fleeting world in dark skies.
  
Jupiter  is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday September 5 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible high above the western horizon  near the head of the Scorpion. The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Saturn is easily visible from twilight near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion not far from the bright red star Antares. The sight of the distinctive constellation of the Scorpion rising up to the zenith, with bright Saturn close to its head, is very nice indeed.

While Saturn is  readily visible from the end of twilight, it is best for telescope observation from around 19:00 until shortly after midnight. By 22:00 Saturn is above the western horizon. This is also a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail.

Early morning sky on Thursday September 10 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 ACST showing Mars and Venus just above the horizon, with the crescent Moon close to Venus.  The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars remains  low the morning skies this week.  While it is climbing out of the twilight into darker skies it still requires  a flat unobstructed horizon to see effectively.

Venus climbs higher in the morning twilight and is now reasonably easy to see. It is a  distinct crescent and impressive in a small telescope. Venus is close to the crescent Moon on the 10th.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mercury and Saturn 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 AEDST. 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, August 27, 2015

 

The Return of The Bride of the Son of the Zombie Mars Hoax that will not Die



Early morning sky on Saturday August 29 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 ACST showing Mars and Venus just above the horizon.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).



Here we are again! The Mars hoax is circulating once more. No, Mars will not be as big as the full Moon, there will be no double Moon in the sky. In fact, Mars is far from opposition and is quite small (it won't be at opposition again until 22 May, 2016 nearly 8 months).

However, on August 27, in the early morning Mars, Venus and Procyon form a nice triangle although Mars will be very difficult to see in the twilight  (the image above is at 6:30 am ACST, as seen from Adelaide).

For an overveiw of what the Mars hoax is and why it is so wrong, see the Return of the Zombie Mars Hoax that will not Die.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday August 27 to Thursday September 3

The Full Moon is Sunday August 30. Jupiter is lost in the twilight. Mercury rises higher in the evening twilight. Saturn is near the head of the Scorpion. Mars is visible low in the morning twilight. Venus climbs higher in the morning twilight.

The Full Moon is Sunday August 30. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to Earth, on the 31st.

Early evening sky on Saturday August 29 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing Mercury.

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

Mercury climbs higher into the evening sky, becoming readily visible. The next few weeks will be the best time to watch this fleeting world as it rises into darker skies.
  
Jupiter  is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday August 29 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible high above the western horizon  near the head of the Scorpion. The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Saturn is easily visible from twilight near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion not far from the bright red star Antares. The sight of the distinctive constellation of the Scorpion rising up to the zenith, with bright Saturn close to its head, is very nice indeed.

While Saturn is  readily visible from the end of twilight, it is best for telescope observation from around 19:00 until shortly after midnight. By 22:00 Saturn is above the western horizon. This is also a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail.

Early morning sky on Saturday August 29 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 ACST showing Mars and Venus just above the horizon.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen). 

Mars  is low the morning skies this week.  While it is climbing out of the twilight it still requires binoculars and a flat unobstructed horizon to see effectively.

Venus climbs higher in the morning twilight. It is a  thin crescent and impressive in a small telescope.You will need an unobstructed horizon to see it before the approaching dawn swallows it up.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mercury and Saturn 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 AEDST. 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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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday August 20 to Thursday August 27

The Last Quarter Moon is Sunday August 23. Jupiter is lost in the twilight. Mercury rises higher in the evening twilight. Saturn is near the head of the Scorpion and is visited by the waxing Moon on the 22nd. Mars is visible low in the morning twilight and is near the Beehive cluster on the 20th and 21st. Venus reappears low in the morning twilight near Mars.

The Last Quarter Moon is Sunday August 23.

Early evening sky on Saturday August 22 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing Mercury.

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

Mercury climbs higher into the evening sky, becoming readily visible. The next few weeks will be the best time to watch this fleeting world as it rises into darker skies.
  
Jupiter  is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday August 22 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible high above the western horizon  near the head of the Scorpion. The Moon is close to Saturn. The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Saturn is easily visible from twilight near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion not far from the bright red star Antares. The sight of the distinctive constellation of the Scorpion rising up to the zenith, with bright Saturn close to its head, is very nice indeed.

While Saturn is  readily visible from the end of twilight, it is best for telescope observation from around 19:00 until shortly after midnight. At 18:00 Saturn is at it's highest above the northern horizon near the zenith (with Saturn facing west). By 22:00 Saturn is high above the western horizon. This is also a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail.

Early morning sky on Friday August 21 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:15 ACST showing Mars and Venus just above the horizon.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars  is low the morning skies this week.  While it is climbing out of the twilight it still requires binoculars and a flat unobstructed horizon to see effectively. On the 20th and 21st Mars is close to the Beehive, the the twilight makes it nearly impossible to see these faint stars, even in binoculars

Venus reappears in the morning twilight. It is a very thin crescent.You will need a flat unobstructed horizon to see it before the approaching dawn swallows it up.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mercury and Saturn 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 AEDST. 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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Sunday, August 16, 2015

 

Aurora Watch Tonight (Sunday 16 August 2015)

UPDATE: 7:00 pmConfirmed aurora from Batemans bay and Bicheno Tas just now. Not clear if unaided eye or camera only. Seems to be sporadic, flaring up and dying down. 

The Australian IPS has just issued an aurora alert for high latitudes BUT despite a good southward magnetic field -8 nT the Launceston  Kindex is 5 and the NOAA site a G2 storm current (and a G1 storm predicted later). I leave it up to you folks to decide if it is worthwhile.
Currently, the Kindex is 5. Velocity: 534 km/sec Bz: -5.0 nT Density = 4.0 p/cc

Dark sky sites have the best chance of seeing anything, and always allow around 5 minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted.
As always look to the south for shifting red/green glows, beams have been reported consistently over the last few aurora and a large green "blob" has been seen.

The storm is unlikely to produce aurora as good as seen last night, which was visible from Southern South Australia and Northern Victoria, with beams "fenceposts" and proton arcs even! Still, Tasmanian and Southern Victoria should be on alert!

The all sky aurora camera in Northern Tasmania at Cressy may be helpful.
<http://www.ips.gov.au/Geophysical/4/2>

SUBJ: IPS AURORA ALERT HIGH LATITUDES
ISSUED AT 0720 UT ON 16 Aug 2015 BY IPS RADIO AND SPACE SERVICES
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE
     

GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN PROGRESS. AURORA MAY BE OBSERVED
DURING LOCAL NIGHT TIME HOURS IN GOOD OBSERVING CONDITIONS
AT HIGH LATITUDES.

IPS would appreciate any feedback from people observing an
aurora giving details of location and time. Please provide
details at: http://www.ips.gov.au/Geophysical/2/5Previous reports of observed aurora are archived under
http://www.ips.gov.au/mailman/listinfo/ips-aurora-sightingsFollow the progress of this event on the IPS web site
by following the links to the Space Weather Status Panel,
Home > Space Weather


Further monitoring at
http://www.ips.gov.au

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