Southern Sky Watch

February Skies

What happened to January? Being on holiday far from my home computer and the internet stopped me from doing January. This month, after the planetary shenanigans of last year Jupiter is the sole bright planet in the evening sky. The action moves to the morning sky with our bright planets, Venus, Mars and Mercury (and then Saturn late in the month) gracing the morning sky.

Useful info for visitors from New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

February 1; New Moon. Feb 1-Feb 28; Mars, Venus and Mercury form a triangle in the morning twilight. February 3; the thin crescent moon near Jupiter, low in the evening twilight. February 11; apogee Moon. February 6; Mars very close to globular cluster M22 in the morning. February 8; First Quarter Moon. February 17; Full Moon. February 24; Last Quarter Moon. February 27; perigee Moon. February 27; Planetary massing of Venus, Mars and crescent moon with Mercury and Saturn below in the morning twilight. February 27; Planetary massing of Venus, Mars and crescent moon (this time the Moon is between Mars and Mercury) with Mercury and Saturn below.


Looking up at the stars is still a rewarding pursuit, despite the increasing light pollution in our major cities. The southern sky is full of interesting objects, many of which go unseen in the northern hemisphere. All you need for a good nights viewing is yourself, a good idea of where south and east are, and your hands. Optional extras are a small pair of binoculars, a torch with red cellophane taped over the business end and a note book. A great many tips for backyard astronomy may be found here, although many of them are more relevant to the northern hemisphere. A general article on amateur astronomy from New Scientist is here (may require subscription otherwise see the TASS site.).

This page is designed to give people a simple guide to the unaided eye sky. In the descriptions of planet and star positions, distances in the sky are given as "fingers width" and "hand span". This is the width of your hand (with all the fingers together as in making a "stop" sign, not bunched as a fist) or finger when extended a full arms length from you.


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Summer is here once more, and the beautiful constellations of Orion, Taurus and the magnificent rambling constellations of Carina, Puppis and Vela grace our skies again. The December school holidays will be an ideal time to head out somewhere dark and view the stars and planets at their best. Summer also means very long twilights in southern Australia, so you may have to wait to see these delights. Despite the warmth of the days, nights are often cool, so don't forget a light jumper before doing any extended star watching. A blanket or rug to sit on is a good idea. Some mosquito repellent will be a must.


While these pages are primarily intended for the use of people observing in Australia, non-Australian Southern Hemisphere observers will find most of the information here applies to them. The star information will be most helpful, when you correct your location for latitude (see the Stars section for appropriate location information). Most Moon phase, planet, comet and asteroid information will be very similar to what will be seen in New Zealand, South Africa and South America. Countries close to the equator (eg Indonesia) will have somewhat different southern and northern views, but the eastern and western views should be similar enough to get a good idea of what is going on.

Occultations, eclipses and aurora are highly location dependent, and it would be best to get a local almanac for these events. If there is no local almanac available, email me and I might be able to help you. I do try and give general info for occultations and eclipses in the Oceania area of the Southern Hemisphere.

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Aurora Alert UPDATED 28/11/22: The new solar cycle (25) has started, and we may expect to see more auroral displays. As the Sun is now climbing out of solar minimum, but is still rather quiet we have had some impressive flares and coronal holes and may see more aurora in the near future. During solar minimum, we were still getting occasional good auroral displays. August 26th 2018 saw an impressive display visible from NZ and Tasmania despite the full Moon. The last week of March 2017 saw some impressive aurora displays from Tasmania, Victoria, SA and WA. October 2016 saw a series of good but transient aurora in Tasmania and southern Victoria. July 2015 saw a massive storm seen as far north as mid NSW, again clouded out for large parts of Australia. 17-19/3/2015, the St. Patrick's Day aurora, massive storm seen as far north as Southern Queensland. Unfortunately clouded out for large parts of Australia. 26/2/2015, yet another good set of aurora were seen from Tasmania. 9/2/2015 There was a series of very good auroral events during February, some were seen in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA as well as Tasmania. Last year saw some nice events and a coronal mass ejection from an M class flare hit us square on on March 17 2013. Aurora were detected as far north as the QLD border, with some really nice events in Tasmania, and here are some images from that event.

Auroral images and descriptions from past geomagnetic storms are now at the auroral image web page.

Naturally, the best views of any aurora will be away from the city and bright lights. Aurora occur when charged particles from the solar wind enter Earths outer atmosphere and interact with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms producing eerie displays of coloured lights. During solar maximum, which occurs every 11 years (and solar cycle 25 should peak around 2024-2025), the number and speed of the particles are higher, allowing them to penetrate the Earth's magnetic field at lower latitudes than normal. Observers in Tasmania are likely to see green glows or sheets of light in the southern sky. Observers in Southern Victoria are more likely to see a red glow in the southern sky, although more spectacular displays are possible.

The Astronomical Society of Tasmania has a webpage devoted to this phenomenon. The Australian IPS radio and space services covers Aurora and related phenomena in very great detail (too much if you don't know much about them) but has a nice education page. Flinders Uni also has real time magnetometer readings, however, this will probably not mean much to most people.

Aurora will generally follow solar flares by about 2 days, and a number of instruments are watching the sun for these outbursts. The solar minimum occurred in 2006 and persisted for some time. While sunspot numbers, and hence flare rates are increasing, sometimes months will go by without an alert, then you have three in a week. The space weather site at http://www.spaceweather.com gives notice of when solar winds likely to cause aurora will arrive. Alternatively, send an email to reynella@mira.net with "subscribe aurora alert" as the subject and I will send you an email alert of any likely auroral event (or other interesting sky phenomena). However, even a strong solar flare is no guarantee that you will be able to see aurora, but it does increase the probability. Still more alternatively, there are the facebook pages Aurora Australis Tasmania, Aurora Australis Tasmania NOW! and Aurora Australis all do discussions and alerts.

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Email alerts I try to update this page fairly regularly outside of the monthly postings. However sometimes things happen which I can't get in fast enough, or you forget to mark your calendar. If you would like to be alerted to or reminded of interesting astronomical or sky phenomena, send an email to reynella@internode.on.net with "subscribe aurora alert" as the subject. This is the old aurora alert list, but with auroras rare even though we are heading towards solar maximum (except for the occasional humdinger, like the September 2005 auroral event), it is doing double duty. I am running the list via MailChimp, and no personal data is harvested or passed on to third parties. Astroblog will have images when possible of these events soon after.

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Coming events

Special events are bolded

Date Event
January
1 January 2022 Occultation of Mars
4 January 2022 Earth at Perihelion
4 January 2022 Crescent Moon, Mercury, and Saturn close low in the evening twilight
6 January 2022 Jupiter and Crescent Moon close
30 January 2022 Crescent Moon forms a triangle with Mars and Venus 
February
2 February 2022 Mars close to M28
3 February 2022 Jupiter close to the thin crescent Moon low in the twilight
6 February 2022Mars near globular cluster M22
13 February 2022 Mercury, Mars and Venus form a triangle in the morning sky.
27-28 February 2022 Crescent Moon, Mars and Venus form a triangle in the morning sky.
March
1 March 2022 Mercury, Saturn and thin crescent Moon form a triangle in the morning twilight
3 March 2022 Mercury very close (0.6 degrees) from Saturn in morning twilight
21 March 2022Earth at Equinox, Five bright planets visible in the morning twilight, Jupiter and Mercury close in the morning twilight.
28 March 2022Crescent Moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars from a close massing in the morning twilight with the Moon above
29 March 2022 Crescent Moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars from a close massing in the morning twilight with the Moon below
31 March 2022Thin crescent Moon close to Jupiter low in the morning twilight
April
All April 2022 Four bright planets in the morning sky Moon in the morning sky
5 April 2022 Saturn and Mars very close (0.3 degrees apart) in the morning sky
13 April 2022 Jupiter close to Neptune in the morning sky
26 April 2022 Mars close to the crescent Moon in the morning sky
27-28 April 2022 Crescent Moon close to Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky
28 April 2022 Venus and Neptune in close conjunction (< 30 arc minutes) in the morning sky
May
1  May 2022 Venus and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (0.2 degrees apart)
6-7 May 2022 Eta Aquariid meteor shower
22 May 2022
Waning Moon above Saturn
25 May 2022Mars, Jupiter and waning Moon form a triangle in morning sky
27 May 2022 Crescent Moon above Venus
30 May 2022 Mars and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (0.6 degrees apart)
June
1 June 2022 Mars and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (1.0 degrees apart)
18 June 2022 Saturn near waning Moon low in the late evening sky
14 June 2022 Perigee Full Moon ("super Moon")
21 June 2022 Earth at solstice
22 June 2022 Mercury in head of Hyades near Aldebaran in morning sky, waning Moon near Jupiter
26 June 2022 Crescent  Moon between Venus and Pleiades in the morning sky
27 June 2022 Crescent  Moon near Mercury in the morning sky
July
1 July 2022 Venus close to Aldebaran in the morning, forming a second eye for Taurus the Bull
4 July 2022 Earth at aphelion
14 July 2022Syzygy Perigee full moon ("super Moon") closest of year
15 July 2022
Moon close to Saturn
19 July
Moon close to Jupiter
22 July 2022 Waning crescent Moon close to Mars (within binocular field)
27 July 2022 Venus near crescent Moon in the morning twilight
29-30 July 2022 Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower
30 July 2022 Mercury close to crescent moon in western evening twilight
31 July
Mars and Uranus 2 degrees apart (in same binocular filed)
August
1-3 August 2022 Mars and Uranus less than  2 degrees apart (in same binocular filed)
4 August 2022 Mercury very close to Regulus (0.7 degrees) in the evening twilight
12 August 2022 Saturn close to Full Moon (perigee "super" Moon)
15 August 2022 Saturn at opposition
15 August 2022 Jupiter close to Waning Moon (1 degree)
20 August 2022 Mars near Moon in Morning
22 August 2022 Jupiter near Moon
29 August 2022 Mercury near thin crescent Moon in evening sky, Mars between Pleiades and Hyades in the morning sky
September
3 September 2022 Mars forms second "eye" in Taurus the Bull with Aldebaran in morning sky
8 September 2022 Waxing moon close to Saturn in evening sky
11 September 2022 Waning Moon close to Jupiter in evening sky
23 September 2022 Earth at Equinox
27 September 2022 Jupiter at Opposition
October
5 October 2022 Saturn and waxing Moon close in evening sky
8 October 2022 Jupiter and waxing Moon close in evening sky
14 October 2022 Mars and the waxing Moon close in evening sky
21-22 October 2022 Orionid meteor shower
November
2 November 2022 Waxing Moon near Saturn in evening sky
4-5 November 2022Waxing Moon near Jupiter in evening sky
8 November 2022 Total Lunar Eclipse
11 November 2022 Waxing Moon near Mars in evening sky
18 November 2022Leonid Meteor Shower
December
2 December 2022 Jupiter and waxing Moon close
8 December 2022 Mars at opposition and close to Full Moon
14 December 2022
Geminid Meteor shower in the morning (waning Moon close this year)
22 December 2022 Earth is at Solstice
24 December 2022 Venus and Mercury and thin crescent Moon are close in evening twilight.
26 December
Saturn near crescent Moon
28-30 December 2022 Venus and Mercury at their closest in evening twilight.
29 December 2022 Jupiter close (1 degree) from the waning Moon in evening

Out in Space

Mars Curiosity Rover finds an intriguing carbon signature on Mars.

Mars Express sees a volcano in a lava sea.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter finds water flowed on Mars longer than previously though.

The newest rover, Perseverance makes some surprising discoveries.

The Juno mission hears Jupiter's Moon Ganymede.

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The Moon:

Current Phase of the Moon.
This is a JavaScript applet kindly supplied by Darren Osbourne. It shows the Moon as Southern Hemisphere viewers see it, and is upside down from the Northern Hemisphere perspective.

O New Moon is on the 1st
C| First quarter on the 8th
O Full Moon on the 17th
D Last quarter on the 24th

February 1; New Moon. February 3; the thin crescent moon near Jupiter, low in the evening twilight. February 11; apogee Moon. February 6; Mars very close to globular cluster M22 in the morning. February 8; First Quarter Moon. February 17; Full Moon. February 24; Last Quarter Moon. February 27; perigee Moon. February 27; Planetary massing of Venus, Mars and crescent moon with Mercury and Saturn below. February 27; Planetary massing of Venus, Mars and crescent moon (this time the Moon is between Mars and Mercury) with Mercury and Saturn below.

An interactive calendar of the Moon's phases.

A view of the phase of the Moon for any date from 1800 A.D. to 2199, US based, so that the Moon is upside down with respect to us. The image above is from this source.

The phases of the Moon have been linked in the popular imagination to activities as diverse as madness and menstruation. However, careful study has shown that there are no such links. This web page outlines how the Moon is unconnected with a wide range of human activities.

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Planets:

Finding planets, even with the directions below, can sometimes be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the sky. However, the Moon is very obvious, and can be a guide to location of planets. Not only that, the combination of the Moon and bright planet(s) is often very beautiful. Thus the guide below gives the dates when the planets and the Moon are close together.
Evening sky, 21:05 pm

Western Evening sky on Thursday, February 3 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:05 ACDST (45 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is close to the Crescent Moon. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (45 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

morning sky, 5:05 am

Morning sky on Sunday February 6 showing the eastern morning sky as seen from Adelaide at 5:05 am ACDST (90 minutes before sunrise). Mars, Venus, and Mercury and form a triangle in the morning sky. Mars is close to the globular culter M22, The inset shows the approximate telescopic view of Mars and M22. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

morning sky, 6:04 am

Morning sky on Sunday February 27 showing the eastern morning sky as seen from Adelaide at 6:04 am ACDST (60 minutes before sunrise). Mars, Venus, the crescent Moon, Mercury and Saturn form an attractive pattern in the morning sky. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

Mercury is in the morning sky, and is readily visible in the eastern morning twilight from about the second week on, about an hour before sunrise. This is the best time this year to see Mercury in the morning sky. Mercury is below the pair of Venus and Mars, forming a nice triangle for most of the month. Mercury is at its furthest from the Sun on the 17th, and then sinks towards the horizon, later in the month in on the rising Saturn and by the end of the Month it is a hand-span above Saturn. On the 27th and then the 28th the sight of the pair of Venus and Mars, the thin crescent Moon, Mercury, and Saturn in the eastern sky an hour before sunrise will be impressive.

On the 1st Mercury is just over a hand-span from the eastern horizon half an hour before sunrise. On the 15th Mercury is just over two hand-spans from the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. By the 28th Mercury is just under two hand-spans from from the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise.

Venus starts the month in the eastern morning twilight and is readily visible an hour before sunrise below Mars. Venus and Mars form a pair which slowly come closer over the Month. Mars slowly brightens but is outshone by brilliant Venus.

Venus is a thin crescent in telescopes at the beginning of the month and will wax as the month progresses. Venus will be at its greatest brilliance on the 13th, when its appearance is like that of the first quarter moon. On the 27th and 28th Venus is part of the planetray massing with Mars, the crescent Moon, Mercury and Saturn.

On the 1st Venus is just two hand-spans from the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. By the 15th Venus is just under four hand-spans from the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. On the 30th Venus is just under fibe hand-spans the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise.

Mars starts February in the lid of the “teapot of Sagittarius”, Mars makes an attractive triangle with Venus and Mercury for most of the month, and is readily visible an hour before sunrise, above bright Venus. Venus and Mars form a pair which slowly come closer over the month as Mercury first approaches, then retreats, from them.

On the 2nd Mars is close to the globular cluster M28 (1 degree) and on the 6th close (0.3 deg) to the globular cluster M22. And don’t forget, on the 27th and then the 28th the sight of the pair of Venus and Mars, the thin crescent Moon, Mercury, and Saturn in the eastern sky an hour before sunrise will be impressive.

On the 1st Mars is just over three hand-spans from the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. By the 15th Mars is just over four hand-spans from the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. On the 28th Mars is five hand-spans from the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise, above bright Venus.

Jupiter is lowering into the western evening twilight sky. On the third Jupiter is below the thin crescent Moon. From mid month Jupiter is lost in the twilight glow.

On the 1st Jupiter is just over a hand-span above the western horizon half an hour and a half after after sunset. By the 15th it is lost in the twilight.

In either binoculars or a telescope Jupiter's Moons are always interesting.



Times are AEST, subtract 30 minutes for ACST and 3 hours for AWST. adjust for daylight savings as necessary.
GRS = Great Red Spot. S = Shadow Transit, T = Transit

Jupiter Events from 01 February 2022 to 30 February 2022
Jupiter Events from 01 Feb 2022 to 28 Feb 2022
Time (LMT) Sat Event 
2022 Feb 01 00:53 II Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 01 02:31 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 01 03:06 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 01 04:48 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 01 05:22 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 01 06:12 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 01 16:07 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 01 23:41 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 02 02:03 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 02 02:32 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 02 11:59 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 02 15:20 II Transit start 
2022 Feb 02 16:28 II Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 02 18:10 II Transit end 
2022 Feb 02 19:15 II Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 02 21:02 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 02 21:35 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 02 21:55 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 02 23:18 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 02 23:50 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 03 07:51 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 03 17:47 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 03 18:12 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 03 21:01 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 03 23:47 III Transit start 
2022 Feb 04 01:58 III Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 04 03:20 III Transit end 
2022 Feb 04 03:43 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 04 05:24 III Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 04 10:24 II Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 04 13:38 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 04 14:12 II Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 04 15:32 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 04 16:03 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 04 17:49 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 04 18:19 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 04 23:34 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 05 09:30 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 05 12:43 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 05 15:30 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 05 19:26 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 06 04:46 II Transit start 
2022 Feb 06 05:22 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 06 05:47 II Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 06 07:36 II Transit end 
2022 Feb 06 08:33 II Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 06 10:03 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 06 10:32 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 06 12:20 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 06 12:48 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 06 15:18 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 07 01:14 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 07 07:13 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 07 09:59 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 07 11:09 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 07 13:58 III Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 07 17:03 IV Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 07 19:19 III Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 07 21:05 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 07 21:16 IV Occultation reappearance 
2022 Feb 07 21:37 IV Eclipse disappearance 
2022 Feb 07 23:49 II Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 08 01:17 IV Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 08 03:29 II Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 08 04:33 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 08 05:00 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 08 06:50 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 08 07:01 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 08 07:17 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 08 16:57 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 09 01:44 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 09 02:53 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 09 04:28 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 09 12:49 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 09 18:13 II Transit start 
2022 Feb 09 19:07 II Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 09 21:02 II Transit end 
2022 Feb 09 21:53 II Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 09 22:45 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 09 23:03 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 09 23:29 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 10 01:20 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 10 01:45 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 10 08:40 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 10 18:36 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 10 20:15 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 10 22:57 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 11 04:19 III Transit start 
2022 Feb 11 04:32 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 11 06:00 III Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 11 07:52 III Transit end 
2022 Feb 11 09:26 III Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 11 13:14 II Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 11 14:28 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 11 16:47 II Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 11 17:34 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 11 17:58 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 11 19:51 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 11 20:14 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 12 00:24 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 12 10:20 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 12 14:45 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 12 17:25 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 12 20:16 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 13 06:11 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 13 07:39 II Transit start 
2022 Feb 13 08:25 II Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 13 10:28 II Transit end 
2022 Feb 13 11:12 II Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 13 12:05 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 13 12:27 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 13 14:22 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 13 14:42 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 13 16:07 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 14 02:03 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 14 09:16 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 14 11:54 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 14 11:59 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 14 18:29 III Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 14 21:55 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 14 23:20 III Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 15 02:40 II Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 15 06:05 II Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 15 06:35 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 15 06:55 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 15 07:51 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 15 08:52 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 15 09:11 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 15 17:47 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 16 02:42 IV Transit start 
2022 Feb 16 03:42 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 16 03:47 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 16 06:00 IV Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 16 06:23 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 16 06:50 IV Transit end 
2022 Feb 16 09:34 IV Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 16 13:38 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 16 21:07 II Transit start 
2022 Feb 16 21:45 II Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 16 23:34 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 16 23:55 II Transit end 
2022 Feb 17 00:31 II Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 17 01:06 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 17 01:24 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 17 03:22 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 17 03:40 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 17 09:30 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 17 19:26 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 17 22:17 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 18 00:52 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 18 05:22 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 18 08:52 III Transit start 
2022 Feb 18 10:02 III Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 18 12:23 III Transit end 
2022 Feb 18 13:27 III Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 18 15:18 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 18 16:05 II Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 18 19:22 II Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 18 19:37 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 18 19:53 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 18 21:53 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 18 22:08 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 19 01:13 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 19 11:09 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 19 16:48 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 19 19:20 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 19 21:05 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 20 07:01 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 20 10:33 II Transit start 
2022 Feb 20 11:03 II Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 20 13:22 II Transit end 
2022 Feb 20 13:50 II Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 20 14:07 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 20 14:22 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 20 16:23 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 20 16:37 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 20 16:57 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 21 02:53 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 21 11:18 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 21 12:49 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 21 13:49 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 21 22:44 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 21 23:02 III Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 22 03:21 III Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 22 05:30 II Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 22 08:37 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 22 08:40 II Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 22 08:40 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 22 08:50 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 22 10:54 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 22 11:06 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 22 18:36 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 23 04:32 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 23 05:49 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 23 08:18 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 23 14:28 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 24 00:00 II Transit start 
2022 Feb 24 00:23 II Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 24 00:24 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 24 02:49 II Transit end 
2022 Feb 24 03:08 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 24 03:09 II Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 24 03:18 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 24 05:24 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 24 05:35 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 24 10:19 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 24 14:07 IV Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 24 19:26 IV Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 24 20:15 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 25 00:20 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 25 02:47 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 25 06:11 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 25 13:24 III Transit start 
2022 Feb 25 14:03 III Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 25 16:07 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 25 16:54 III Transit end 
2022 Feb 25 17:27 III Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 25 18:55 II Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 25 21:38 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 25 21:47 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 25 21:57 II Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 25 23:55 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 26 00:03 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 26 02:03 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 26 11:59 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 26 18:51 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 26 21:16 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 26 21:55 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 27 07:50 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 27 13:27 II Transit start 
2022 Feb 27 13:42 II Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 27 16:09 I Transit start 
2022 Feb 27 16:15 II Transit end 
2022 Feb 27 16:16 I Shadow transit start 
2022 Feb 27 16:28 II Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 27 17:46 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 27 18:25 I Transit end 
2022 Feb 27 18:32 I Shadow transit end 
2022 Feb 28 03:42 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 28 13:22 I Occultation disappearance 
2022 Feb 28 13:38 n/a Great Red Spot transit 
2022 Feb 28 15:45 I Eclipse reappearance 
2022 Feb 28 23:34 n/a Great Red Spot transit 


Saturn returns to the morning sky in late February, climbing towards Mercury. By the end of the month it is just under a hand-span below Mercury. Again, on the 27th and 28th it is part of a beautiful plaentary massing.

On the 20th Saturn is just over a finger-width above the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. On the 28th Saturn is just a hand-span above the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. At this time it just under a handspan from Mercury.

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Iridium Flares, the International Space Station and other satellites

See this amazing site for images of the space station taken through a telescope.

The Iridium satellites have deorbited, However, other satellites do flares as well (bit more rarely) the visibility of Iridium flares is VERY dependent on observer position, so you need a prediction for your spot within about 30 km. Hence I'm referring you to a web site for predictions rather than doing it myself.


See the International Space Station at your Location. Courtesy of Heavens above. Choose your location from the drop down box

Or type in Your Latitude and Longitude in decimal format eg Darwin is -12.461 130.840 , to find your Lat Long go to this site.
Latitude: Longitude: City Time Zone:
Another site, JPASS, is very cool and does the International Space Station, and many other satellites. However, although the output is flashy, it's harder to use than heavens above.

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Meteor showers:

Date        	Meteor Shower       ZHR  Illumination 

The figure ZHR is zenithal hourly rate. This is the number of meteors that a single observer would see per hour if the shower's "point of origin", or radiant, were at the zenith and the sky were dark enough for 6.5-magnitude stars to be visible to the naked eye. Illumination gives an idea of how dark the sky is, the lower the figure, the darker the sky.

There are no significant showers this month.

Outside of the showers, you can still see sporadic meteors. Rates seen from the Southern Hemisphere are around 10 random meteors being seen per hour during the late morning hours and 2 per hour during the evening. The evening rates will be reduced during the times around the full Moon due to interference by the Moons light.

A good page describing meteor watching is at the Sky Publications site.

The Meteor Section of the Astronomical Society of Victoria has some good information on meteor watching too.

Learn how to take a meteor shower photograph.

A Cool Fact about meteor speeds

A good page on detecting meteors using home made radio-telescopes is here.

 

 

 

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Comets:

There are no unaided eye comets visible at the moment.

A list of current comet ephemerides is at the MPC.

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Occultations:

No interesting naked-eye occultations this month.

 


Eclipse:

No significant eclipses this month.

Find local sunrise/sunset and twilight times for your city or location (courtesy of Heavens Above).
Use either the drop down box for the listed cities, or type in your latitude, longitude and city in the boxes below.

Type in Your Latitude and Longitude in decimal format eg -12.461 130.840 , to find your Lat Long go to this site.

Latitude: Longitude: City Time Zone:

 


Variable Stars:

While most stars seem to shine with a constant brightness, there are some that undergo regular, dramatic change in brightness. The classic variables are Mira and Algol. Algol is currently not visible. Mira no longer visible to the unaided eye.

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Stars:

evening sky, 10:00 pm

The southern evening sky at 10:00 pm AEST in Melbourne on February 1 (similar views will be seen from other cities at the equivalent local time eg 10:00 pm ACST Adelaide, 9:00 pm AEST Brisbane).

All descriptions here are based on the view from Melbourne at 10.00 pm AEST on 1 February and assumes a fairly level horizon. Starset occurs progressively earlier each day, so these descriptions are valid for 9.00 pm on the 15th and 8.00pm AEST on the 30th Readers from other time zones should see roughly the same views at 10.00 pm local time. Corrections for cities other than Melbourne are given below.

How do I find east, west, north and south?

Face east, just above the north eastern horizon is Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, which is just rising above the horizon. Directly east, above the horizon by 4 hand-spans is Hydra, and to the south east is the distinct wine-glass shape of Crater, the Cup.

About 10 hand-spans up from due east is Puppis, the poop deck of the form constellation of Argo Navis, the Argonaut's ship. The Milky Way passes through Puppis (and its companion constellations Vela and Carina), and there are several rather beautiful clusters worth looking at in binoculars.

Directly to the left of Puppis is Canis Major. The bright white star 3 hand-spans left of due east is Sirius (alpha Canis Majoris), the brightest star in the sky. The constellation of Canis Majoris has a number of open clusters that are well worth exploring with binoculars, Most of these lie two hand-spans to the right of Sirius, amongst the V shaped group of stars that marks the tail of Canis Major. Below Sirius by two hand spans, and one hand-span to the right is M47. This cluster is quite nice in binoculars.

To the left of Sirius by about four hand-spans and almost due north is the distinctive saucepan shape of Orion's belt. The handle of the saucepan is Orion's sword, which contains some good naked eye open clusters, and the final star in the handle hosts the famous Orion nebula, which is visible to the naked eye under clear skies. Directly above the handle of the saucepan is bright Rigel (beta Orionis). Directly below the saucepan is the bright reddish Betelgeuse (alpha Orionis), a red giant star.

To the left of and below Orion's belt by about 4 hand-spans is Aldebaran (alpha Tauri), another red giant which forms the base of the V shaped group of stars called the Hyades, which forms the head of Taurus. Further to the left and down again by 2 hand-spans from Aldebaran is a faint, but pretty, compact cluster of stars called the Pleiades (the seven sisters). The Pleiades are particularly beautiful through binoculars.

To the right of and below Orion's belt by around 8 hand-spans are bright Castor and Pollux, the brightest stars of Gemini.

Directly below Orion's belt by around 9 hand-spans, and just a hand-span from the northern horizon is Capella, the brightest star of Auguia, the Charioteer.

Facing east, and Puppis again, to the left of Puppis is Vela and Carina, the sail and keel of Argo Navis. When Argo Navis was broken up into Puppis, Vela and Carina in 1750, they forgot to assign alpha and beta stars to Vela, and its brightest star at magnitude 1.5 is Gamma Velorum. Gama Velorum is a double star which may be resolved in good binoculars. The Milky Way passes through Vela, and there are many open clusters which can be seen with binoculars or the naked eye. One of the best of these is NGC2547, a little below gamma Velorum. Vela is also home to the spectacular Gum nebula (which can only be seen in telescopic photographs), and the second pulsar to be observed optically. Kappa and delta Velorum, with iota and epsilon Carina, make the "false cross" (about 7 hand spans above the southern horizon). A high definition map of Vela is here.

Carina (the keel of the former constellation Argo Navis) is a little further to the left of Vela. Canopus (alpha Carina) is a bright yellowish star sitting 3 hand-span from due east and 14 hand-spans above the south-eastern horizon (and about 3 hand-spans up from the False Cross). A high definition map of this region is here. It is now far enough from the horizon to appreciate its many faint objects. Looking almost anywhere in the area of Carina will reveal an interesting cluster or star formation. However, the area between the Southern Cross and the false cross is particularly rich. The False Cross is 3 hand-spans below Canopus, four hand-spans up from the Southern Cross and, nine hand-spans from the southern horizon. Just to the left of the False Cross is a good open cluster. Between the False Cross and the Southern Cross you will find the "Southern Pleiades" surrounding the tail star (Theta Carina) of a prominent kite shaped group of stars, with theta Carina two hand-spans up from Acrux in the Southern Cross. Smaller and less spectacular than their northern counterparts, they still look very nice in binoculars. Four finger-widths below the Southern Pleiades are two rich open clusters, and the barely visible star Eta Carina. Eta Carina's spectacular nebula is only dimly seen in binoculars.

Continuing down from Vela and Carina, following the Milky Way, we come to the Southern Cross.

The Southern Cross is, as expected, a cross shaped formation with Acrux (alpha Crucis) and gamma Crucis forming the long axis of the cross (pointing down to the south-east, with bright Acrux on the end of the axis away from the horizon). Beta and delta Crucis form the cross piece of the cross. Just to the right of Acrux is the Coal Sack. This dark area against the glow of the Milky Way represents a large dust cloud and is usually clearly visible in dark skies, but will be hard to see this close to the horizon. The Jewel box in the Cross is a small open cluster just to the right of Beta Crucis. It is quite beautiful, but requires strong binoculars or a small telescope to see properly, and is unlikely to be good viewing this close to the horizon.

Continuing down and south from the cross we come to the bright, distinctive alpha and beta Centauri, the so-called "pointers". They are a little over two hand-spans from the south-eastern horizon, with alpha being the yellow star which is closest to the horizon, and beta the blue white star just above and to the left. Most of the rest of Centarus, the Centaur, is too close to the Horizon to be seen properly. Later in the month however, omega Centauri, a naked eye globular cluster three hand-spans to the left of alpha Centauri, should be high enough to view properly. It is the object marked 5139 on the eastern sky map. A high definition map of Centaurus and Crux is here.

Alpha Centauri is the closest star to our sun at around 4 light years. However, recent measurements with the Hippacaros satellite put the system 300 million kilometres further away than previously thought. Alpha Centauri is actually a triple star, consisting of two sun-like stars and a red dwarf, Proxima Centauri, which is the closest of the triple stars to earth.

Directly above the southern horizon by 9 hand-spans is the extended nebulosity of the Large Magellanic cloud, the largest of the dwarf satellite galaxies. Binoculars will reveal a rather attractive nebula near it, the Tarantula nebula.

To the left of this by 4 hand-spans and down by 3 hand-spans is the Small Magellanic cloud, the second largest of the dwarf satellite galaxies to the Milky Way. This feature is best viewed on a dark night, away from the city. In this nebulosity is what looks to be a fuzzy star; this is 47 Tucana (marked 104 on the western sky map), a spectacular globular cluster that is very nice through binoculars. To the right of the Small Magellanic Cloud by about 4 hand-spans is the dim constellation of Tucana, the Toucan, the parent constellation of 47 Tucana.

To the left, about two hand-spans from the south western horizon is Fomalhaut, alpha Piscinus Austrinis.

Almost 5 hand-spans up from due west is Deneb Kaitos, beta Ceti, brightest star of Cetus the whale, which stretches off to the right. Mira, Omicron Ceti (O on the maps) is a variable star with a period of about 332 days. Mira is currently not visible to the unaided eye.

Cetus also hosts a nearby sun like star. Tau Ceti is 11.4 light years away from earth. From beta Ceti, Two hand-spans to the right is eta Ceti, two hand-spans from eta Ceti, forming a triangle with eta and beta, is Tau Ceti.

Continuing up from beta Ceti by around 9 hand-spans is the rambling, faint constellation of Eridanus, the river. Bright Achernar is about 8 hand-spans up and to the left from beta Ceti (around 9 from the south western horizon).

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Sky Maps

How to use the maps

      map viewsky view

Comparison of a section of a skymap showing the Southern Cross (Crux) and pointers, with the appearance of the night sky. The map and sky are for May 1 at 10.00 pm, facing south. Both show approximately 30 degrees (5 hand-spans) of sky just above the horizon

The maps look a little busy, as they cover all sky from horizon to zenith. The grid lines are navigational helpers; each horizontal or vertical line covers 30 degrees of arc (the gridlines in the illustration show 15 degrees of arc), which is roughly five hand-spans (where a hand-span is the width of your hand, held flat light a "stop" sign at arms length). As you can see from the way the lines bunch up. The map is a little distorted, due to trying to project a spherical surface on a flat surface. The horizon is the lowest curved line on the map (for technical software reasons I can't block things out below the Horizon). Constellations are linked by lines and their names are in italics. Stars are shown as circles of varying size, the bigger the circle the brighter the star. The stars are named with their Bayer letter (eg a - alpha, the brightest star in a constellation, a Crucis is the brightest star in Crux). Variable stars are shown as hollow circles, double stars are marked with a line (eg a, b and g Crucis are all double stars, that look quite beautiful in a small telescope). Clusters and Nebula brighter than magnitude 6.0 are marked as broken circles (eg. the Jewel box cluster next to b Crucis above which is best viewed in binoculars or a telescope) and squares respectively. To find Crux for example, locate Crux on the appropriate map (eg. see the illustration above). Holding the Map, face either east or west (depending on the map), then use the grid lines to determine how far over and up you should look, then look for the Crux pattern in that part of the Sky.

PNG Maps

A view of the Eastern February sky at 10.00pm AEST on 1 February can be downloaded here (febsky_e.png 30 Kb) and a view of the western February sky can be downloaded here (febsky_w.png 30 Kb). These are more compact files but don't have a lot of resolution.

PDF Maps

High Resolution PDF files can be obtained for the eastern (110 Kb) and the western (110 Kb) horizon maps.

The Zenith Map (110 Kb) shows you the whole sky. You will need to face the one of the compass points, then hold the map with the appropriate compass point on the map at the bottom of the page.

You will need a PDF viewer such as Adobe Acrobat or GhostView to view and print them. They look slightly worse on-screen than the PNG files, but print much better and come with legends.

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[ December Skies]
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Cheers! And good star gazing!


updated

Ian's Astrophotography Gallery

Some of the photographs/images I have taken in recent years of astronomical phenomena that may be of interest.

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Links

Societies: Australian Resources: Australian Planetariums: updated Astronomy for Kids International Resources: Stunning sites: Useful programs:
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Charts, Books and Software for Astronomy

Stellarium, the free photorealistic sky chart that I use for my general charts, is now available in a web version, it is not as versatile as the desktop version, but handy if you are out and about. it Runs under a variety of browsers on standard PC's, Chromebooks and iPads. https://stellarium-web.org/

The is also a mobile Stellarium version, but it costs money (around $13, not much, but still).

If you would like to have charts available all the time, rather than relying on mine, for between $2-$20 you can pick up a planisphere from a newsagent or bookshop (or for a bit more you can get fancy ones from Australian Geographic, the ABC shop or the other Australian Geographic look alike shop, or the Wilderness Society, or even a binocular/ optical store). The planisphere won't give you position of the planets, so you will need to get the planet rise/set times. These can be found in most serious newspapers (the Age, the Australian, SMH etc. The Australian is probably the best bet for budding amateurs). The combination of planisphere and rise/set times is the best value for beginners though, if you are not too worried about identifying star clusters in your binoculars.

Touring the Universe through Binoculars Atlas is now freeware http://www.philharrington.net/tuba.htm it can print observing charts, but has a few annoying quirks. These include having no horizon line, and moving about is a bit irritating.

I use a combination of a 1962 star chart, the Australian Astronomy 2022 almanac and SkyMap Pro 11.0 . I highly recommend the Australian Astronomy 2022 almanac. It is more helpful for planetary/comet/asteroidal observations and eclipses than for double stars, clusters galaxies etc, but is an excellent resource for Australian observers and anyone who would like to seriously follow the planets in Australia should have this almanac. It has easy to follow month-by-month summary information, as well as detailed charts, tables and whole sky maps. It is easily navigated. The Almanac is often in big bookstores or optical shops, or email info@quasarastronomy.com.au to purchase a copy directly for those outside major population centres. The Australian Astronomy almanac comes out in around November for the following year, and is now approx $30.

Sky and Telescope now also do an Australian version of their magazine.

For detailed chart drawing and timing of events, as well as satellite track predictions I feed the information from the almanac into the SkyMap Pro 11.0, planetarium program. This is a very handy program which prints maps of every possible orientation and scale. The maps on this page are produced by SkyMap. An update to SkyMap 12.0 which handles Windows 10 is now available, If anyone does still wish to buy a copy of SkyMap Pro 12, please email Chris Marriott at "skymap62@gmail.com".

A shareware version of SkyMap that runs on windows 3.x, and win95 can be found here http://www.winsite.com/info/pc/win3/desktop/skymp21a.zip this is approximately 640 Kb zipped.

A shareware version of the win95 only version 5.0 is here http://www.download.net.au/cgi-bin/dl?13607

Other highly recommended Sky charting packages (win95/98/2000/XP/Win7-10 sorry) are:
Cartes du Ciel at https://www.ap-i.net/skychart//en/start (FREE) a bit messy to install but very good.
Stellarium at
http://stellarium.sourceforge.net/ (FREE) stunning photorealistic program, but requires a grunty PC.
Celestron Sky Portal https://www.celestron.com/pages/skyportal-mobile-app is a good free mobile phone/tablet app
Sky Safari https://skysafariastronomy.com/ is another nice mobile astronomy app, but the Apple app store want to sell me Skysafari 6 rather than the freeware Sky Safari 5 (currently available on Google play).
TheSkyVarious packages from $49 US to $249 US
Stary Night various versions from $50 US for the basic pack (10 day trial of the basic pack at http://www.siennasoft.com/english/downloads.shtml) up to eye watering $250 USD versions.
Earth Centered Universe $88 AUD (shareware version at http://www.nova-astro.com/)
On the other hand a standard Sky Atlas for serious observing (much handier than carting a computer with you) such as Norton's Star Atlas can range from $35 to $90.

In these days of hand-held devices (smart phones and tablets), there is a plethora of sky charting apps you can take into the field with you. I use GoogleSky for android and a cut down version of Stellarium for iPad, my most used hand-held app is Heavens Above for Android, for watching ISS passes. This is one app that has changed my astronomical life. There are many more, many free or less than 1 AUD to download. Celestron has a great free planetarium app (although big at 154 Mb) for Android, iPhone and iPad, SkyPortal (see links above).

This is not meant to be a product endorsement of any kind (outside of the Australian Astronomy 2022 almanac. For any budding astronomers out there, it is fantastic value and no, I don't have any commercial interest in it, but I did win bronze in their website Olympics).

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Link to the Lab's 'In Space' gateway Link to the Lab's home page
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This page is provided by Ian Musgrave and is © copyright 2022 Ian Musgrave, except the "Southern Sky Watch" logo, as well as any other ABC logo used on this page, is © copyright of the ABC. Sky maps are generated with SkyMap Pro 11.0 .

This page can be used freely for any non-commercial purpose but please attribute it correctly. However, see the disclaimer.

* Email: reynella@internode.on.net e-mail Ian with any suggestions
Created: Wednesday, 1 April 1998, 11:22:13 PM
Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2022, 11:30:13 PM


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