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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday March 16 to Thursday March 23

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday March 21. Earth is at equinox on the 20th. Mars is low in the twilight. There is a series of bright ISS passes this week. Jupiter and the bright star Spica are close in the late evening skies. Saturn is high in the morning sky with the last quarter Moon below it on the 21st.

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday March 21.The Moon is at apogee, when it is futrhest from the AErth, on the 19th. Earth is at equinox, when night and day are approximately equal, on the 20th.

Evening sky on Saturday March 18 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:25 ACDST (60 minutes after sunset). Mars is low above the horizon.

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

Venus  is now lost in the twilight.



Mars is in the western evening skies in  Pisces. It is is low in the dusk sky, but is the brightest object above the western horizon low in the late twilight.


The ISS passes almost over Procyon, as seen from Melbourne on the evening of Friday 17 March at 20:25 AEDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.

Starting on the 16th there are a series of bright evening passes of the International Space Station lasting around five days. Many are low to the horizon, but for many places in Australia this series has the ISS gliding either through the Southern cross, coming close to bright stars or distinctive constellations such as Orion. Some of the passes are very short although bright as the ISS enters Earth's shadow.The best and brightest of the passes occur during a period from 16-18 March, favouring the east coast.  For more details see this page.

 Late evening sky on Saturday March 18 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACDST.  Jupiter is now well above the horizon close to the bright star Spica. The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is rising well before midnight and is now reasonably high above the horizon in the late evening this week. It is close to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo.
Jupiter is a good telescopic target from around midnight on, and the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars. The following Jupiter events are in AEDST.


Thu 16 Mar 0:28 Io : Disappears into Eclipse
Thu 16 Mar 3:11 Io : Reappears from Occultation
Thu 16 Mar 4:56 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Thu 16 Mar 21:48 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        S
Thu 16 Mar 22:20 Io : Transit Begins               ST
Fri 17 Mar 0:00 Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T
Fri 17 Mar 0:30 Io : Transit Ends
Fri 17 Mar 0:47 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Fri 17 Mar 21:37 Io : Reappears from Occultation   T
Fri 17 Mar 21:49 Gan: Transit Ends
Sat 18 Mar 6:34 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sun 19 Mar 2:25 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sun 19 Mar 22:16 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Mon 20 Mar 3:06 Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        S
Mon 20 Mar 4:04 Eur: Transit Begins               ST
Mon 20 Mar 5:34 Eur: Shadow Transit Ends          T
Mon 20 Mar 6:24 Eur: Transit Ends
Tue 21 Mar 4:03 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Tue 21 Mar 22:12 Eur: Disappears into Eclipse
Tue 21 Mar 23:54 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Wed 22 Mar 1:24 Eur: Reappears from Occultation
Wed 22 Mar 5:13 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        S
Wed 22 Mar 5:38 Io : Transit Begins               ST
Wed 22 Mar 7:25 Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T
Thu 23 Mar 2:21 Io : Disappears into Eclipse
Thu 23 Mar 4:56 Io : Reappears from Occultation
Thu 23 Mar 5:41 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Thu 23 Mar 23:42 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        S

Morning  sky on Tuesday March 21 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:52 ACDST (90 minutes before sunrise). Saturn is high above the horizon and the waning Moon is just below it.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise). (click to embiggen).

 Saturn rises higher in darker morning skies this week. Saturn is now high enough above eastern horizon to see easily and is now a good telescopic target. It continues to climb into darker skies as the week progresses. It is within binocular distance of the Triffid and Lagoon nebula, however, the proximity of the waning Moon, closest on the 21st, makes viwing these nebular difficult.

The constellation of Scorpio is a good guide to locating Saturn. The distinctive curl of Scorpio is easy to see above the eastern horizon, locate the bright red star, Antares, and the look below that towards the horizon, the next bright object is Saturn.

Mercury is  lost in the twilight.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. 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.
Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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