Whats in the Sky This Week

14 Aug 2019

This week the night sky is dominated by a bright Moon. Particularly bright as its is passing overhead very high in the sky.

This makes it impossible to get a good view of the Milky Way, distant galaxies and most nebulae.

However its great for looking at the Moon. Just use you naked eye and squint your eyes you will notice "The Seas" These are lava plains that formed 4 billion years ago when some asteroids smashed into the Moon, cracked opened its crust and magma came oozing out and filled the low lying areas of the Moon. Viewed through a small telescope you will see they are quite smooth since they were all liquid and set hard billions of years ago. They are easily seen since they are darker in fact darker than an ashphalt road since they are made of basalt. We have a full Moon overhead on the 15th.

Great time for viewing the two largest planets Jupiter and Saturn.

Jupiter is overhead in the early evening in Scorpio and not far from a bright red/orange star named Antares. Jupiter appears as the brightest looking star in the sky, but a planet of course, near the constellation scorpio. A pair of binouculars will show its moons and a telescope will show you Jupiters cloud bands and famous red spot.

Saturn appears as a bright looking yellow star (planet) in Sagittarius. You will need a telescope to view Saturns rings and moons. On the 12th Saturn is obscured by the Moon and appeared coming out from the Moon after 7pm. A great sight for our customers that night.

In the South you will see the 3 crosses, Southern Cross, Diamond Cross, and False Cross. They are setting in the South West. If you have a pair of binoculars check out 'The Southern Pleiades'which appears as a single star to the naked eye in the top right star of the diamond cross. Another cluster appears as a slight fuzzy patch just to the left of the False Cross, NGC 2516. Beautiful in binoculars.

To the West you will see another cross which is Corvus The Crow.

A bright golden star in the northwestern sky is Arcturus, 40 lights years away.

In the north low down is a bright white star called Vega. If you remember a movie 20 years ago called Contact, you will have heard of that star. Another near neighbour at 26 light years away.