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The Sky This Week – Thursday February 16 to Thursday February 23

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 8:03
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The Last Quarter Moon is Sunday February 19.  Venus is prominent in the twilight sky in the star poor regions of Pisces. Mars is just above Venus. Jupiter and the bright star Spica are close in the late evening skies. Saturn is high in the morning sky and is close to the crescent Moon on the 21st..

The Last Quarter Moon is Sunday February 19. The Moon is at apogee (when it is furthest from the Earth) at this time.


Evening sky on Saturday February 18 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:09 ACDST (60 minutes after sunset). Venus and (now dim) Mars form a line. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

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

Venus  is high in the dusk sky and intensely bright. After being a feature of the evening sky for so long, it is now rapidly heading towards the horizon.

It can be seen easily from somewhat before half an hour after sunset to an hour after sunset. It is dazzlingly brilliant above the horizon in the late twilight. Venus has been mistaken for flares or landing aeroplanes it is so bright now.

Venus is in a very star poor field in Pisces and is a distinct crescent shape in telescopes.

Mars is in the western evening skies in  Pisces. Mars remains in a star poor area.

Mars was at opposition on May 22,  2016 and is still visibly dimming. While still brighter than any of the nearby stars, it is much faded and not immediately obvious, It is no longer a modest telescope object. Mars is visible most of the evening setting before midnight. In small telescopes Mars will be a visible, but tiny, gibbous disk, however you are unlikely to  see its markings.


Sky on Saturday February 18 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:30 ACDST.  Jupiter is now rising before midnight. It is close to the bright star Spica. The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at 2:32 am as Erupa appears from behind Jupiter. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is rising just before midnight, but remains low to the horizon this week and is still better in the early morning. It is close to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. Jupiter is a good telescopic target from around 1 am, and the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars. The following Jupiter events are in AEDST.

Thu 16 Feb 1:56 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian 
Thu 16 Feb 3:28 Eur: Shadow Transit Begins S
Thu 16 Feb 5:35 Eur: Transit Begins ST
Thu 16 Feb 5:58 Eur: Shadow Transit Ends T
Fri 17 Feb 1:45 Gan: Shadow Transit Begins S
Fri 17 Feb 4:18 Gan: Shadow Transit Ends
Fri 17 Feb 6:05 Gan: Transit Begins T
Sat 18 Feb 3:02 Eur: Reappears from Occultation
Sat 18 Feb 3:34 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sat 18 Feb 23:25 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sun 19 Feb 5:50 Io : Disappears into Eclipse
Mon 20 Feb 3:11 Io : Shadow Transit Begins S
Mon 20 Feb 4:10 Io : Transit Begins ST
Mon 20 Feb 5:12 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Mon 20 Feb 5:23 Io : Shadow Transit Ends T
Mon 20 Feb 6:20 Io : Transit Ends
Tue 21 Feb 0:19 Io : Disappears into Eclipse
Tue 21 Feb 1:03 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Tue 21 Feb 3:27 Io : Reappears from Occultation
Tue 21 Feb 22:37 Io : Transit Begins ST
Tue 21 Feb 23:52 Io : Shadow Transit Ends T
Wed 22 Feb 0:47 Io : Transit Ends
Wed 22 Feb 6:50 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Thu 23 Feb 2:41 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Thu 23 Feb 6:03 Eur: Shadow Transit Begins S
Thu 23 Feb 22:32 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian


Morning  sky on Tuesday February 21 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:17 ACDST (90 minutes before sunrise). Saturn is reasonably high above the horizon and close to the Moon. 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. It continues to climb into darker skies as the week progresses.

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. The crescent Moon is close to Saturn on Tuesday February 21.

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)


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