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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday January 25 to Thursday February 1

The Full Moon is Wednesday, January 31. This is a "blue" Moon and the time of the first total eclipse since September 2015. The variable star Mira is at maximum. Mars and bright Jupiter are close together. Saturn is visible in the morning sky and forms a line with the star Antares, Mars, Jupiter and the star Spica. The asteroid Ceres is visible in binoculars.

The Full Moon is Wednesday, January 31. This is a "blue" Moon, the second full Moon in the month and the time of the first total eclipse since September 2015. The Moon is at perigee on January 30th, when it is closest to the Earth.

Lunar Eclipse, 8:30 pm
Evening sky on January 31 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 22:51 ACDST, about half way to totality. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen). The darkening of the Moon will be readily visible.

On the evening of January 31, continuing into the morning of 1 February there is a total eclipse of the Moon, this is the first total Lunar eclipse since April 2015. This is a nice deep eclipse, and though you have to stay up late to see it go to totality, it is well worth it. It is still school holidays, so let the kids stay up late to watch. You may even see the Beehive cluster become visible to the unaided eye next to the Moon during totality.

All of Australia will see this Total eclipse from start to finish.

For the East Coast Moon the eclipse begins at 22:48 AEDST (21:48 AEST), maximum eclipse is at 00:30 AEDST 1st (23:30 AEST), the eclipse ends at 2:12 AEDST (1:12 AEST) on the 1st

For the Central states the eclipse begins at 22:18 ACDST (21:18 ACST), maximum eclipse is at 24:00 ACDST (23:00 ACST) , the eclipse ends at 1:42 ACDST (12:42 ACDST) on the 1st

For Western Australia the eclipse begins at 19:48 AWST, maximum eclipse is at 21:30 AWST , the eclipse ends at 23:12 AWST

For more details and hints on photographing the eclipse see my eclipse site.

See here for a map and contact timings in UT for sites outside Australia.

Morning sky on Saturday January 27 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:28 ACDST (60 minutes before sunrise). Jupiter, Mars Saturn and Mercury form a line in the morning sky with the bright stars Antares and Spica (off the chart to the left).


Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 60 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).
Morning sky on Saturday January 27 looking north as seen from Adelaide at 2:00 ACDST the asteroid Ceres is just below the sickle of Leo.

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







Black and white binocular chart suitable for printing (click to embiggen and print).

The large circle represents the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. The small that of a 4" Newtonian telescope with a 24 mm eyepiece. Use the horizon chart for orientation first.

The asteroid 1 Ceres is relatively easily visible in binoculars from around the middle of this month, it brightens during this time but there is significant interference from Moonlight by the end of the month.

Ceres is relatively easy to find. It is above the northern horizon at astronomical twilight in the morning, and is just below Kappa Leo. The brightish star the is the tip of the sickle of Leo (see charts, if you centre your binoculars on Kappa Leo Ceres will be just below it). You may need to watch night to night as the asteroid moves to be sure of its identity..
 
Venus  is lost in the twilight.

Jupiter climbs still  higher in the morning sky and is moving away from Mars after their spectacular conjunction last week.

 Mars is moving away from Jupiter towards the head of Scorpius the scorpion. By the end of the week Mars is close to the moderately bright star beta1 Scorpii.

Mercury is dropping back towards the horizon this week and will be lost in the twilight at the end of the week.

Saturn climbs higher in the morning sky, leaving Mercury behind.

The bright planets form a line in the morning sky  with the bright stars Antares and Spica, this will look quite attractive.

Evening sky on Saturday January 27 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen)

The long period variable star Mira is now at peak brightness, and is easily visible to the unaided eye, even in Moonlight.  The circle marks the location of Mira in the rambling constellation of Cetus. The Arrow shaped head of  Taurus the bull points almost directly at Mira (and on the 27th the waxing Moon is close to Antares). This is a good time to see this iconic variable star

 Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen).

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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