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Friday, July 22, 2016

 

Astrophiz Podcast 3 is Out

The Astrophiz podcast is out, Interview: Dave Hunter - Magnetometers and interpreting heliophysical satellite data. History & Theory of radio astronomy: Dr Nadeshda Cherbakov tells us about Karl Jansky. ANNNDD someone you might recognize talking about what is up in the sky this week.
https://soundcloud.com/astrophiz/astrophiz-podcast-3-heliophysics-karl-jansky

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

 

See the ISS buzz Jupiter and Mars AGAIN (22-23 July, 2016)

The ISS passes between Mars, Saturn and Antares, as seen from Adelaide on the evening of  Friday 22 July at 18:03 ACST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes near Antares and Saturn, as seen from Alice Springs on the on the evening of  Saturday 23 July at 18:46 ACST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes just below Jupiter, as seen from Sydney on the evening of  Friday 2 July at 18:33 AEST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Friday 22 July for Adelaide.All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Saturday 23 July for Alice Springs.All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Friday 22 July for Sydney.

On July 22 and 23 there is series of bright passes of the International Space Station occurring in the early evening. In some places in Australia the ISS will pass close to Mars and Antaresat varying times, others close to Jupiter and in still others there are close passes to bright stars such as the pointers, sometimes close passes to all of the above and in a few places the ISS might even pass over Jupiter or Antares.

Friday evening (22 July) sees the  ISS pass close to Antares and Saturn as seen from Perth and Adelaide. Sydney, Alice Springs, Brisbane and Melbourne all see close passes to Jupiter, with Sydney almost seeing the ISS pass in front of it (regions nearby may see the ISS pass over Jupiter).

Saturday evening (23rd) Sees the ISS pass cose to Antareas and Saturn from Alcie SPrings (with the ISS almost passing over Antares) and Brisbane, With Adelaide, Sydney and Perth seeing reasonably close passes to Jupiter.

On both dates there are also closish passes to various other right stars (like the pointers and Arcturus).

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, a small difference in location can mean the difference between the ISS passing over Jupiter and missing it completely.
 
Start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, there may be slight differences in the time of the ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions. 

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday July 21 to Thursday July 28

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday July 27. Venus and Mercury rise in the early evening sky. Jupiter is visible in the early evening. Mars and Saturn are visible all evening long. Saturn is close to the red star Antares and forms a triangle with Mars. Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS may be visible in strong binoculars in the evening sky.

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday July 27. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to the Earth, on the 27th.

Evening sky on Saturday July 23 looking west at 30 minutes after sunset. Jupiter is above Venus and Mercury, forming a line with the star Regulus. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter was at opposition on the March 8th, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. Jupiter will be an excellent telescopic target but s rapidly coming too close to the horizon.

Jupiter is in the north-western evening sky as the sun sets, and is  good for telescopic observation from around 18:00 on until around 9:00 pm when it will be a little too close to the horizon. Jupiter's Moons will be an still be excellent sight.

Venus and Mercury continue to rise above the twilight glow this week, you will need a clear, unobstructed horizon to see them effectively at the beginning of the week, but by the end of the week Mercury will be sufficiently high in the dusk sky to see clearly. A little after half an hour after sunset, Venus, Mercury, the bright star Regulus and Jupiter make a nice line-up in the dusk sky.

Evening sky on Saturday July 23 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Mars, Saturn and Antares form a triangle. The inset shows telescopic views of Mars and Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars is high in the evening skies near the head of the Scorpion in Libra.

Mars continues to head back towards the head of the Scorpion this week. Mars forms a line with the star Dschubba in the head of the Scorpion and Antares.  As well Mars forms a triangle with Saturn and the red star Antares. Mars was at opposition on May 22,  and is visibly dimming, but is still a decent telescope object. It is visible all evening long. In even small telescopes Mars will be a visible disk, and you should see its markings.

 Saturn was at opposition on the 3rd of June. However, Saturn's change in size and brightness is nowhere near as spectacular as Mars's, and Saturn will be a reasonable telescopic object for many weeks. Saturn is reasonably high in the evening sky and is readily visible below Scorpius. Saturn forms a triangle with Mars and the red star Antares. It is now high enough for good telescopic observation in the evening. In even small telescopes its distinctive rings are obvious.

Comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) rises  around 4:00 pm local time, and is clear the of  horizon murk from around 7:30 pm.  It is currently around magnitude 7.5, by the end of the week the waning Moon will rise sufficiently late that there is good chance of seeing the comet before Moon rise in good binoculars.  The comet will be close Centaurus for much of this week. Detailed maps and guides are here.

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.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

 

Venus (and Mercury) Returns to the Evening Sky. (17 July 2016)

Venus and Mercury above the horizon in the twilight glow at 18:06 ACST on Sunday 17 July. The inset shows Mercury and Venus at full resolution. Imaged with my Canon IXUS at 400 ASA 0.4" exposure and 3x Zoom. Click to emibggen to be able to see Mercury better.

Venus and Mercury have returned to the evening sky. Last Sunday (17 July) the pair were very close together, around a lunar diameter apart.

Unfortunately they were also very low to the horizon. However, 10 minutes after sunset I could easily see Venus , but not Mercury. By half an hour after sunset when the pair were a little over 3 finger-widths above the horizon (which in my case was the ocean, lucky me).

I could just see Mercury with averted vision, in another 10 minutes Mercury was reasonably visible but still a little bit prone to disappear if you looked right at it. I took  the picture shortly after this, then hied it back home as the cold and some amazing cold-resistant mosquitoes were getting to me.

Mercury will now pull away from Venus, heading towards Regulus and Jupiter, becoming more visible as the month wears on, and heading for a spectacular conjunction with Jupiter and Venus in late August. .

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday July 14 to Thursday July 21

The Full Moon is Wednesday July 20. Venus and Mercury return to the evening sky. Jupiter is visible in the early evening. Mars and Saturn are visible all night long. Saturn is close to the red star Antares and forms a triangle with Mars. The Moon is close to Mars and Saturn on the 19th. Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS may be visible in strong binoculars in the evening sky.

The Full Moon is Wednesday July 20.

Evening sky on Saturday July 9 looking west at 30 minutes after sunset. Jupiter is above the close pair of Venus and Mercury. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter was at opposition on the March 8th, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. Jupiter will be an excellent telescopic target but s rapidly coming too close to the horizon.

Jupiter is in the north-western evening sky as the sun sets, and is  good for telescopic observation from around 18:00 on until around 9:30 pm when it will be a little too close to the horizon. Jupiter's Moons will be an excellent sight all evening.


Venus and Mercury emerge from the twilight glow this week, although they will be difficult to see until late in the week, and even then you will need a clear, unobstructed horizon, like the ocean, to see them effectively. On Sunday 17 July Venus and Mercury are very close together, but are just four finger-widths above the horizon half an hour after sunset, so this will be a challenging observation. You may need binoculars to see Mercury.

Evening sky on Friday July 15 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Mars, Saturn and Antares form a triangle, and the waning Moon makes a kite shape with them. The inset shows telescopic views of Mars and Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars is high in the evening skies near the head of the Scorpion in Libra.

Mars continues to head back towards the head of the Scorpion this week. Mars forms a line with the star Dschubba in the head of the Scorpion and Anatres.  As well Mars forms a triangle with Saturn and the red star Antares. Mars was at opposition on May 22, is visibly dimming, but is still a decent telescope object. It is visible all night long. In even small telescopes Mars will be a visible disk, and you should see its markings.

 Saturn was at opposition on the 3rd of June. However, Saturn's change in size and brightness is nowhere near as spectacular as Mars's, and Saturn will be a reasonable telescopic object for many weeks. Saturn is reasonably high in the evening sky and is readily visible below Scorpius. Saturn forms a triangle with Mars and the red star Antares. It is now high enough for good telescopic observation in the evening. In even small telescopes its distinctive rings are obvious.

The waxing Moon is close to Mars on the 14th and 15th, and Saturn of the 15th and 16th. The best display is on the 15th when the Moon, Mars, Saturn and Antares form a kite pattern in the sky.

Comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) rises  around 4:00 pm local time, and is clear the of  horizon murk from around 7:30 pm.  It is currently around magnitude 7.2, however, the waxing Moon is very close to the comet this week, making it very difficult to see even in a telescope.  The comet will be close Centaurus for much of this week. Detailed maps and guides are here.

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.

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Thursday, July 07, 2016

 

Jupiter Meets the Moon (9 July 2016)

Evening sky on Saturday July 9 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST. Jupiter is very close to the Moon.

The inset is the telescopic view of Jupiter and the Moon. at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (but see below). (click to embiggen).

This Saturday evening (9 July), the crescent Moon and the bright planet Jupiter will be very close together, just above the western horizon.

 Indeed at their closest from most of Australia Jupiter is mostly less than half a lunar diameter from Moon (that is about a quarter of a finger-width) at around 9:00 pm local time (see table for details). Except Perth, which has a really close view of 11 arc minutes (11', the Moon is 30' wide) just on astronomical twilight (and hour and a half after sunset).


CityClosest approachTime
Adelaide14'20:30
Alice Springs23' 20:30
Brisbane24'21:00
Canberra17'21:00
Darwin33'20:30
Hobart14'21:00
Melbourne14'21:00
Perth10'18:36
Sydney18'21:00

Simulated view of view as seen through a 6" Newtonian reflector, with a 12 mm eyepiece.

They will be visible together in binoculars and wide field eyepieces of telescopes. For telescope user, a 24 mm eyepiece (rough field of view 1 degree) will have the pair together for most of the night.

A 12 mm eyepiece will easily fit Jupiter and a large section of the Moon in the same field of view fro around an hour of closest approach, but details of Jupiter's bands may be hard to see.
A 7.5 mm eye piece will show Jupiter nicely, but you will not get much of the Moon in (and Brisbane, Alice Springs and Darwin they will be too far apart to fit in the FOV of a 7.5 mm eyepiece.

If you start observing shortly around astronomical twilight (an hour and a half after Sunset) you will be able to watch the pair coming closer together (except Perth where they are closest around astronomical twilight, and you can watch them pull apart).

Photographing the pair will be a challenge, as it will be difficult to get a good exposure of Jupiter and its Moons without over exposing the Moon, you may have to make a mosiac with differnt exposure times.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday July 7 to Thursday July 14

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday July 12. Jupiter is visible in the early evening and is spectacularly close to the Moon on the 9th. Mars and Saturn are visible all night long. Saturn is close to the red star Antares and forms a triangle with Mars. Mercury and Venus are lost in the twilight. Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS is visible in strong binoculars in the evening sky.

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday July 12.The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 13th.

Evening sky on Saturday July 9 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST. Jupiter is very close to the Moon. The inset is the telescopic view of Jupiter and the Moon. at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter was at opposition on the March 8th, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. Jupiter will be an excellent telescopic target but is rapidly coming too close to the horizon.

Jupiter is in the north-western evening sky as the sun sets, and is  good for telescopic observation from around 18:00 on until around 9:30 pm when it will be a little too close to the horizon. Jupiter's Moons will be an excellent sight all evening. On the 9th Jupiter will be less than a Lunar diameter from the Moon, and the pair will be visible together in binoculars and low power telescope eyepieces.

The early evening is also graced by the constellation of  Canis Major with bright Sirius, the dog star, above the western horizon.

Evening sky on Saturday July 9 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Mars, Saturn and Antares form a triangle. Comet C/2013 X1 is now visible in the evening, above the tail of the Scorpion. The inset shows telescopic views of Mars and Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars is high in the evening skies near the head of the Scorpion in Libra.

Mars heads back towards the head of the Scorpion this week. Mars forms a line with the star Dschubba in the head of the Scorpion and Anatres.  As well Mars forms a triangle with Saturn and the red star Antares. Mars was at opposition on May 22, but Mars will still be big and bright for this week. It is visible all night long. In even small telescopes Mars will be a visible disk, and you should see its markings.

 Saturn was at opposition on the 3rd. However, Saturn's change in size and brightness is nowhere near as spectacular as Mars's, and Saturn will be a reasonable telescopic object for many weeks. Saturn is reasonably high in the evening sky and is readily visible below Scorpius. Saturn forms a triangle with Mars and the red star Antares. It is now high enough for good telescopic observation in the evening. In even small telescopes its distinctive rings are obvious.

Comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) rises  around 4:00 pm local time, and is clear the of  horizon murk from around 8 pm.  It is currently around magnitude 7.2 and will be visible in dark skies with good binoculars.  The comet will be close to the tail of the Scorpion for much of this week. Detailed maps and guides are here.

Venus is lost in the twilight.


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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The Sky This Week - Thursday July 7 to Thursday July 14

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday July 12. Jupiter is visible in the early evening and is spectacularly close to the Moon on the 9th. Mars and Saturn are visible all night long. Saturn is close to the red star Antares and forms a triangle with Mars. Mercury and Venus are lost in the twilight. Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS is visible in strong binoculars in the evening sky.

The First Quarter Moon is Tuesday July 12.The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 13th.

Evening sky on Saturday July 9 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST. Jupiter is very close to the Moon. The inset is the telescopic view of Jupiter and the Moon. at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter was at opposition on the March 8th, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. Jupiter will be an excellent telescopic target but is rapidly coming too close to the horizon.

Jupiter is in the north-western evening sky as the sun sets, and is  good for telescopic observation from around 18:00 on until around 9:30 pm when it will be a little too close to the horizon. Jupiter's Moons will be an excellent sight all evening. On the 9th Jupiter will be less than a Lunar diameter from the Moon, and the pair will be visible together in binoculars and low power telescope eyepieces.

The early evening is also graced by the constellation of  Canis Major with bright Sirius, the dog star, above the western horizon.

Evening sky on Saturday July 9 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST. Mars, Saturn and Antares form a triangle. Comet C/2013 X1 is now visible in the evening, above the tail of the Scorpion. The inset shows telescopic views of Mars and Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Mars is high in the evening skies near the head of the Scorpion in Libra.

Mars heads back towards the head of the Scorpion this week. Mars forms a line with the star Dschubba in the head of the Scorpion and Anatres.  As well Mars forms a triangle with Saturn and the red star Antares. Mars was at opposition on May 22, but Mars will still be big and bright for this week. It is visible all night long. In even small telescopes Mars will be a visible disk, and you should see its markings.

 Saturn was at opposition on the 3rd. However, Saturn's change in size and brightness is nowhere near as spectacular as Mars's, and Saturn will be a reasonable telescopic object for many weeks. Saturn is reasonably high in the evening sky and is readily visible below Scorpius. Saturn forms a triangle with Mars and the red star Antares. It is now high enough for good telescopic observation in the evening. In even small telescopes its distinctive rings are obvious.

Comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) rises  around 4:00 pm local time, and is clear the of  horizon murk from around 8 pm.  It is currently around magnitude 7.2 and will be visible in dark skies with good binoculars.  The comet will be close to the tail of the Scorpion for much of this week. Detailed maps and guides are here.

Venus is lost in the twilight.


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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