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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

 

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

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday July 9. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky with bright Jupiter very close by. The pair separate over the week. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion and is easily visible in the evening. Mercury is below the bright star Aldebaran in the morning.

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday July 9. The Moon is at perigee (when it is closest to the earth) on the 6th, and Earth is at aphelion, when it is furthest from the Sun, on the 7th.


Early morning sky on Saturday July 4 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 ACST showing Mercury below the Hyades and the bright star Aldebaran. The pair are just  above the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time.  (click to embiggen).

Mercury is high in the morning skies at the begining of this week and sinks back towards the horizon.


 Early evening sky on Thursday July 1 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing Venus and  Jupiter close together. The inset shows the binocular view of the two at this time.

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

Mars  is lost in the twilight.

Venus is easy to see above the western horizon in the twilight. At nautical twilight, an hour after sunset, it is around two hand-spans above the horizon, and still visible at astronomical twilight. Venus is a distinct crescent shape in even small telescopes.


Venus and Jupiter start the week very close, around a Moon diameter apart, as the week goes on they move away from each other, with Jupiter sinking towards the horizon, but will be an excellent sight for quite some time.

 Jupiter  is easily seen  in the early evening sky near Venus in the north-western sky. It is between the bright star Regulus in the sickle of Leo (this forms the head of the constellation of the  Lion) and Pollux in Cancer. It is also not far from the rather nice Beehive cluster in Cancer, and looks very good in binoculars. Jupiter and Venus are close at the start of the week, and move further apart as the week goes on.  (see Venus description above).

Jupiter is visible in the early evening, setting just after 8:30 pm, and is high enough for telescopic observation once twilight is over. Jupiter's Moons will be putting on a good display in both binoculars and small telescopes.

Evening sky on Saturday July 4 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible high above the northern 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 now 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 curled above the horizon, 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 20:00 into the early morning hours. At 22:00 it is at it's highest above the northern horizon. This is also a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Jupiter, Venus 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, June 30, 2015

 

The Venus and Jupiter Conjunction, Prepare for the Finale on July 1!

Early evening sky on Tuesday June 30 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing Venus and  Jupiter close together. The inset shows a binocular view of the pair.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia  and most of the Southern Hemisphere at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).
Early evening sky on Wednesday July 1 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST. The inset shows a binocular view of the pair.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).
Early evening sky on Thursday July 2 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST. The inset shows a binocular view of the pair.

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

If you have been watching Venus and Jupiter draw together over the past few days, be prepared for the spectacular denouement. Tonight (30th June) and July second (Thursday) Venus and Jupiter will be about a Lunar diameter away from each other (about half a finger width, when they can be covered with an outstretched finger).

On Wednesday 1 July (that will be June 30 in the US)  the pair will be just 21 minutes of arc away from each other, this means you can see them both in a low power eyepiece on most telescopes. Look to the north-western sky anytime from half an hour after sunset to between 8 - 8:30 pm (depending on how level and unobscured your horizon is). If you have the sea as your western horizon the pair setting should be amazing.
 

Telescopic view of Jupiter and Venus on 1 July, simulated for a 6" Newtonian with a 10 mm eyepiece. (click to embiggen).

On the 30th June to 2 July the pair will fit comfortably in a low power telescope field.

On the 1st, they will fit in a medium power telescope field (simulated to the left), where the crescent Venus and banded Jupiter will be obvious.

Photographing the pair is easily done with point and click cameras that have a manual exposure of up to 10 seconds and a manual autofocus override. You will need a decent optical zoom and an exposure of at least 10 seconds to pick up Jupiter's Moons without a telescope. 

Holding your mobile phone to a telescope eyepiece may produce reasonable results if you can hold it steady.  For my point and shoot I use a special adaptor, but if you are steady you may also get good results. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see some of the set-ups I have used to photograph Lunar eclipses.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

 

Venus and Jupiter Draw Closer (June 28, 2015)

Venus and Jupiter as seen at around 18:15 ACST from Largs Bay, Adelaide on 28 June. 6 second exposure at ASA400  with my Canon IXUS. Click to embiggen.Venus and Jupiter as seen at around 18:20 ACST from Largs Bay, Adelaide on 28 June. Stack of 10x6 second exposures at ASA400 3x zoom with my Canon IXUS. Click to embiggen.

And so it begins,the final stages of the long journey Venus and Jupiter have made as the come together for the finale on July 1. Campare these images to the ones on June 20 and 21 respectively (my campaign to follow the pair as they got closer was derailed by cloud).

Tonight the pair were just too far apart to be in my widefield lens on the 4" Newtonian, hopefully tomorrow night they will ake it, then by the 1st they should be in the mid-field eyepice.

Crossing fingers for clear skies.


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

 

Geomagnetic alert - again (24-26 June)

Aurora are like buses, for ages none come along then a whole bunch show up at once.

A geomagnetic alert has been issued by the Australian  IPS for the 24nd-26th due to an anticipated impact from a Coronal Mass Ejection that will add to the residual activity of the last few CME. The impact time is may be anywhere from 4 am on the 25th (which is still 24th in Universal Time, which all these alerts are made in) to 4 pm on the 25th, with 10 am being most likely. This could translate into aurora at any time during the early morning  of the 25th and possibly evening of the 25th (or disappointingly, during daylight hours). 

Aurora, if they flare up, are likely to be seen in Tasmania, possibly Victoria (as was seen yesterday in between gaps in the cloud), and if conditions are favourable in southern WA and Southern South Australia. Even with a prediction of minor geomagnetic storms there is also a chance no aurora will occur. Unfortunately predictions are for a lot of  South-eastern Australia to remain under cloud.The waxing Moon, if the cloud goes, may make things a bit more difficult, but is still not too bright, and will be gone or low in the early morning.

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 IPS site is being hammered at the moment, you can also try the Australian Aurora service and the NOAA spaceweather prediction page.
[the NOAA site s predicting a G3 strong storm, but that is for high latitudes, for mid latitudes like us it is more likely to be minor, as predicted by the Australian IPS]


The all sky aurora camera in Southern Tasmania at Cressy may be helpful (but has been acting up).
<http://www.ips.gov.au/Geophysical/4/2>

SUBJ: IPS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 15/25
ISSUED AT 0130UT/24 JUNE 2015
BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.

INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED
DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTION
FROM 24-26 JUNE 2015
_____________________________________________________________

GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
24 Jun:  Unsettled with possible Active to Minor Storm periods.
25 Jun:  Minor Storm conditions.
26 Jun:  Unsettled to Active.

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

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The Sky This Week - Thursday June 25 to Thursday July 2

The Full Moon is Thursday July 2. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky with bright Jupiter close by. The pair are closest on July 1. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion and is easily visible in the evening. The Moon is close to Saturn on June 28. Mercury is below the bright star Aldebaran.

The Full Moon is Thursday July 2.

Early morning sky on Saturday June 28 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 6:30 ACST showing Mercury below the Hyades and the bright star Aldebaran. The pair are just  above the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time.  (click to embiggen).

Mercury is at its highest in  the morning skies this week on the  25th, after this it sinks back towards the horizon, but is still readily visible most of this week.


Early evening sky on Wednesday July 1 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:30 ACST showing Venus and  Jupiter lose together.

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

Mars  is lost in the twilight.

Venus is easy to see above the western horizon in the twilight. At nautical twilight, an hour after sunset, it is around two hand-spans above the horizon, and still visible at astronomical twilight. Venus is a distinct "half Moon" shape in even small telescopes.

Telescopic view of Jupiter and Venus on 1 July, simulated for a 6" Newtonian with a 10 mm eyepiece. (click to embiggen)

At the start of the week Venus, Jupiter and the star Regulus in Leo form a line. Venus continues to draws closer to Jupiter during the week, being spectacularly closer on the 30th June to 2 July, when they can be covered with an outstretched finger and will fit comfortably in a low power telescope field. They are closest on July 1, when the pair are less than a finger width apart.

On the 1st, they will fit in a medium power telescope field, where the crescent Venus and banded Jupiter will be obvious.

 Jupiter  is easily seen  in the early evening sky near Venus in the north-western sky as the night goes on. It is between the bright star Regulus in the sickle of Leo (this forms the head of the constellation of the  Lion) and Pollux in Cancer. It is also not far from the rather nice Beehive cluster in Cancer, and looks very good in binoculars. Jupiter and Venus are coming closer (see Venus description above).

Jupiter is visible in the early evening, setting just after 9 pm, and is high enough for telescopic observation once twilight is over. Jupiter's Moons will be putting on a good display in both binoculars and small telescopes.

Evening sky on Saturday June 20 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 ACST.  Saturn is  easily visible above the horizon near the head of the Scorpion. The Moon is near Saturn at this time. 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 now 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 curled above the horizon, with bright Saturn close to its head, is very nice indeed.

The waxing Moon is near Saturn on the 28th and 29th. 

While Saturn is  readily visible from the end of twilight, it is best for telescope observation from around 20:00 into the early morning hours. At 22:00 it is at it's highest above the northern horizon. This is also a good time to scan Scorpius and Sagittarius with binoculars to reveal the clusters in and around the Scorpions tail.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Jupiter, Venus 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, June 23, 2015

 

Strong Geomagnetic storm underway, may persist until nightime hours in Australia/NZ (June 23)

UPDATE:  Night has now fallen, glimpses of aurora have been reported in Tasmania through gaps in cloud and a possible report of aurora through cloud gaps in Victoria. The solar wind speed is high (618 Km/sec), and the magnetic field fluctuates but is currently a very aurora friendly -14 nT. The planetary K index is predicted to rise above 7.

A geomagnteic storm that hit in the early morning (around 5 am) in Australia is ongoing. The Storm reached G4 (severe) levels in the early morning, and then has fluctuated between G1 (minor) and G3 (strong).

While over all NOAA is listing the storm as G3 (strong) with a planetary Kindex of 8, as of writing the more locally relevant Australian Kindex is 5, and the Australian IPS has issued a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm alert and an aurora watch. The solar wind speed is high, and the magnetic feild fluctuates between -1 and -20 nT  (the bigger the better).

If this persists to nighttime hours then aurora could be potentially seen in Tasmania, Southern WA, Souther SA, Southern Victoria and if conditions are good into southern NSW. This mornings storm was visible in Victoria, Southern WA, Canberra and parts of NSW. With the fluctuating magnetic field  (aurora are most likely when the field is strongly negative) aurora may only occur in bursts, perhaps 30-40 minutes long, maybe shorter.

Look to the south for shifting glows, away for sources of light pollution.

However, cloud cover predictions suggest most of Southern Australia will have cloud. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to pop out if there are holes in the cloud cover.

Monday, June 22, 2015

 

Geomagnetic Alert and Possible Aurora 22-23 June 2015

An updated geomagnetic alert has been issued by the Australian  IPS for the 22nd-23rd  due to an anticipated impact from a Coronal Mass Ejection catching up with the previously predicted CME. The impact time is uncertain. This could translate into aurora at any time during the late night time of the 22nd to early morning 23rd and possibly evening of the 23rd (or disappointingly, during daylight hours).  Aurora, if they flare up tonight, are likely to be seen in Tasmania, possibly Victoria, and if conditions are favourable in southern WA and Southern South Australia. There is even a chance they could be seen further north. However, despite prediction of severe geomagnetic storms there is also a chance no aurora will occur. Currently a lot of Southern Australia is under cloud though, however the waxing Moon, if the cloud goes, should not interfere significantly.

Aurora can occur at any time after nightfall (although around midnight or just after seems to be common). 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 all sky aurora camera in Southern Tasmania at Cressy may be helpful (but has been acting up).
<http://www.ips.gov.au/Geophysical/4/2>

SUBJ: IPS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 15/24
ISSUED AT 0430UT/22 JUNE 2015
BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) have been observed during the past
48 hours which are expected to impact the Earth in the latter
half of the UT day of 22 June. The latter of these CMEs is expected
to have direct impact at Earth and result in major to severe
storm levels.

INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED
DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTION
FROM 22-23 JUNE 2015
_____________________________________________________________

GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
22 Jun:  Storm Levels
23 Jun:  Storm Levels


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

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

 

A Line in the Sky, Venus, Jupiter and the Crescent Moon (21 June 2015)

The crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter as seen at around 19:15 ACST from Largs Bay, Adelaide on 21 June. 2 second exposure at ASA400 3x zoom with my Canon IXUS. Click to embiggen to see Regulus and omega Leonis.About 5 minutes later down the beach
Click to embiggen to see Regulus (almost hidden by the tree) and omega Leonis. 4 second exposure at ASA 400.Venus and Jupiter from the kitchen window, The Moon is hidden by the sunshade.

This evening and tonight were marvelously clear (okay, there was some thing cloud, but it generally kept out of the way. I the early afternoon I could see Venus easily with the unaided eye (in the daylight, around 3 pm). But even in binoculars I could not pick up Jupiter until just on sunset.

But after sunste the trio of Venus, Jupiter and the Moon were amazing. As the coulours drained fro the sky the trio became brighter, and the star Regulus joined the lineup. Bright enough even to pick up through my kitchen window.

Tomorrow night the line is longer, but still beautiful.


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