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Sunday, September 21, 2014

 

Mercury come close to Spica , 20 and 21 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)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 iages Mercuy and Pca 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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Sunday, September 14, 2014

 

Comet C/2013A1 Siding Spring and Galaxy NGC 6744

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and the galaxy NGC 6744. Click to embiggen.

Image is a SUMMED stack of 9 x 60 second images taken with iTelescope T12.

Image significantly affected by
Moon light, but still not bad.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

 

Comet C/2013 A1 12 September 2014

C/2013 A1 on 12 September 10:12 pm ACST. Image is a MEDIAN stack of 5x60 second luminance exposures taken with iTelescope T9, with light contrast enhancement. Click to embiggen.C/2013 A1 on 12 September 10:12 pm ACST. Image is a SUMMED stack of 5x60 second luminance exposures taken with iTelescope T9, with light contrast enhancement. Click to embiggen.

C/2013 A1 on 24 March, much dimmer than now.

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring has passed it's closest approach to Earth and will now slowly fade as it heads for its close approach to Mars on October 19.

While it never got very bright it still looks very nice in telescopes. It has a nice little fan shaped tail. In the coming weeks it comes close to some rather nice deep sky objects.

Images taken with iTelecope T9 0.32-m f/9.3 Ritchey-Chretien + Focal Reducer Resolution: 0.8 arc-secs/pixel FOV: 13.6 x 20.4 arc-mins.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

 

Saturn, Mars and Antares, 12 September 2014

Zubenelgenubi, Saturn, the middle star of the Scorpions head (Dschubba), Mars and Antares all line up in this image of the Constellation of Scorpios. Click to embiggen.

Stack of 10 x 15 second exposures with my Canon IXUS (ASA 400).

During the week Mars will come closer to Dschubba. The dark rifts of the Milky way show up nicely for a light polluted suburb.

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Aurora Watch Friday 12 September, 2014

A double impact is expected from a glancing blow from a Coronal Mass Ejection from an M class flare, and a nearly full on impact from a CME from an X class flare during this coming Friday.

The Australian IPS has released an aurora watch for Friday (12 September) to early Saturday (13 September). If aurora occur, this may be visible in Tasmania, New Zealand, and possibly Southern Vic, WA and Southern South Australia.

If conditions are right aurora might even extend further north. However, geomagnetic storms are fickle, and the storm may arrive in daylight or well after Moon rise, or may fizzle out entirely .. or might just be spectacular.

Depending on when the incoming coronal Mass Ejection from the X-class flare strikes, we may see Minor Storm to Major Storm periods in the late evening to early morning. At the moment the prediction is for  the X class CME to strike around 10 pm AEST (+/- 7 hours!). 

The Moon is waning after full Moon on the 8th, so the skies will be fairly dark until Moon rise around 10:00 pm. As always look to the south for shifting red/green glows, recently beams have been reported too. As usual, dark sky sites will have the best chance of seeing anything, and always allow  around 5 minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted.

The all sky aurora camera in Southern Tasmania at Cressy may be of help in monitoring for aurora
http://www.ips.gov.au/Geophysical/4/2

SUBJ: IPS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 14/16 ISSUED AT 0510UT/11 SEPTEMBER 2014 BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.
INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTIONS FROM 11-13 SEPTEMBER 2014
_____________________________________________________________
GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
11 Sep: Unsettled with possible Minor Storm periods
12 Sep: Active to Major Storm levels
13 Sep: Active
Cheers! Ian

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