New Years Eve planetary treat above the Western horizon tonight

December 31, 2011 | By | Add a Comment
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Take a moment out from your travels to your New Years Eve celebrations to look above the Western horizon to view the planets Venus, Jupiter and (if you have patience and at least binoculars and a decent finder chart) Uranus and Neptune.

Wide angle chart showing location of Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and the Moon at 9 pm AEST (10 pm daylight savings time) on Saturday 31 December 2011. Chart produced for Canberra, Australia (but the chart will also be useful for Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne). Image produced using Apple Ipad app Sky Safari Pro. Image (c) Southern Skies. Used with permission.

If you have a telescope, you may want to point it at Jupiter at 10.49 pm AEST (11.49 pm Daylight savings time) to watch Ganymede (one of Jupiter’s largest moons) reappear from behind Jupiter. The below chart shows where it will reappear. Note that the chart is for a couple of minutes later so that you know where to look.

Chart produced for Canberra, Australia (but the chart will also be useful for Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne). Image produced using Apple Ipad app Sky Safari Pro. Image (c) Southern Skies. Used with permission.

Finally, while you are peering at the Moon between all those planets, you may be interested to know that NASA’s twin GRAIL spacecraft are about to go into orbit around the Moon (Sunday 1 January 2012 Australian time). The GRAIL spacecraft are designed to study variations in the Moon’s gravity – giving us an understanding of what is beneath the Moon’s surface.

 

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