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

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The Smallest Full Moon of the year is Thursday January 16. Jupiter is the brightest object in the evening sky, visible all night. Mars is prominent in the early morning and the Moon is close to Mars on the 23rd. Saturn rises higher in the morning sky.

The Full Moon is Thursday January 16. The Moon is at apogee on the 16th. This is the smallest full Moon of 2014, indeed, it is the smallest since the Full Moon of November 18th, 1994 and no Full Moon will be smaller until May 13th, 2052.

Evening sky on Saturday January 18 looking north-east  as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 pm ACDST in South Australia. The inset shows the view of Jupiter through a telescope at this time. Jupiters Moons are about to do some interesting things. The X marks the approximate position of the Pioneer 10 probe.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is in the constellation Gemini. It is the brightest object in the evening sky. Jupiter was at opposition on the 6th of January, when it was brightest and closest to Earth, but will remain bright and easily observable in telescopes for several months.

rises around 19:30 pm local daylight saving time, and is highest just after midnight. It is high enough to observe telescopically in the mid to late evening.  

It is now well above the north-eastern horizon near the bright stars Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini. It is quite easy to see as the brightest object in the entire sky.  Jupiter’s Moons are readily visible in binoculars. 

January 18 has some interesting Jovian Moon events, at 23:09 AEDST  Io Reappears from Eclipse, at 23:53 a  Ganymede  Transit Begins. At 00:52 (Sunday 19th) the  Great Red Spot Crosses the Central Meridian, at  01:10   Gan Shadow Transit Begins at  03:03  Gan Transit Ends.           

Venus is lost in the twilight, it will return to the morning sky towards the end of January.  

Morning sky on Thursday January 23 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACDST in South Australia. Mars is high above the horizon, forming a triangle with the star Spica and the Moon. Saturn is lower to the horizon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars is is in the constellation of Virgo near the bright star Spica. Saturn is in Libra.

Mars rises still higher in the morning twilight, and is visible well before twilight.

 Saturn is visible above the eastern horizon before dawn. It is almost high enough for decent telescopic observation.

Mercury  is lost in the twilight.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Venus so prominent 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 AEDST, Western sky at 10 pm AEDST. For further details and more information on what’s up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.


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