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Thursday, March 7, 2013

First week of March 2013

Last Friday 1st March, the sky cleared for our first stargazing session of the month.
At first it was mostly cloudy with lightning in the distance so we delayed our start time to allow the weather to improve. Whilst waiting we had time to watch the dramatic sunset.

Sunset 1st March 2013 - Science Centre Singapore Observatory.

After 8pm the sky was clear. As usual, Jupiter was the main target for most of the first hour. Just like the previous week, the Great Red Spot (a giant storm) was faintly visible amidst one of the equatorial cloud belts.
Jupiter - Taken on 22nd Feb 2013 - from Science centre Singapore, through a 16 inch Cassegrain using a Nikon D70s. The great red spot is just visble on the left, beside the southern equatorial belt (lower dark band).

Jupiter - taken on 22nd Feb 2013 - through a 6 inch refractor. Sidewise orientation due to position of Jupiter in the sky (towards the west) and the position of the camera.

Later in the evening we turned are attention to the bright stars and constellations of Taurus, Orion and Canis Major. The great Orion Nebula (M42) was particularly stunning in the main 16-inch telescope, especially as there was no moonlight around.

After closing time, a few of us stayed back to take some photos of constellations:
Orion (top) and Jupiter (brightest, below) next to bright star of Aldebaran (in Taurus) - taken facing west - 1st March 2013.

Rectangular constellation of Gemini - bright stars Pollux (on top) and Castor (below). Facing North.

Close up of Orion

Close up of Canis Major - brightest star Sirius (top right).

Canis Major & Sirius (top right) with Carina & Canopus (below) - facing South

Waning Gibbous Moon rising from the East - 1st Mar 2013 10:45pm

Back at home, on Sunday evening (3rd Mar) there was was a bright flyby of the International Space Station (ISS) over Singapore. It would have made a nice photo as the ISS passed  right next to Jupiter and through Orion. However, 10 minutes before the flyby, a big patch of cloud blocked that part of thesky. ISS was visible for a few seconds through gaps in the clouds but all I got on camera was a faint streak as it approached Jupiter:
Faint trail of ISS passing by Jupiter on a cloudy night - 3rd March 2013 - Singapore 

Finally, the Moon is currently going through its waning phases as it moves around the morning side of the Earth. I've seen it every morning this week as I walked to the MRT to get to work. Every day getting closer and closer to the Sun as it approaches New Moon, resulting in its phase changing from a Large bright Gibbous to a half and then just this morning a thin crescent Moon.
Waning Gibbous Moon - 28th Feb 2013 - 7:30am - Singapore

Last Quarter Half Moon - 4th March 2013 - 7:40am - Singapore

Waning Crescent Moon - 7th March 2013 - 7:45am - Singapore

New Moon occurs on Monday 11th of March, which means it will not be visible this weekend as it will be too close to the Sun to see. By the end of next week it will return to the evening sky as a crescent Moon around 13th-15th March.

To see the Moon at SCOB this month I would recommend either Friday 15th March or Friday 22nd March.
Also we've seen no sign of Comet PANSTARRS C/2011 L4, which is at its brightest this week. However, its extremely low in the sky between 7pm and 7:30pm, almost exactly west after sunset. So far, its been cloudy every day in that direction so it will be challenging to spot it.