Mercury is at its best for viewing this week. It is at "greatest elongation" (greatest angular separation from the Sun) today. Within an hour of sunset locate Venus - the unmistakably bright 'evening star'.
Ten years ago the Huygens probe landed on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. It photographed drainage channels and landed on a dry sea bed of 'sandy' ice grains scattered about with rock hard ice pebbles.
The Dawn spacecraft begins imaging the dwarf planet Ceres for navigation purposes in preparation for its March 6 capture by the gravity of Ceres. Ceres as imaged by the Dawn spacecraft on December 1 2014. NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
The New Horizons spacecraft en-route to Pluto begins its "Distant Encounter Operations" today. It is due to reach Pluto in July 2015. By May it will begin returning images that are clearer than those taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is currently passing through constellation Eridanus, the River. Eridanus stretches across a wide swathe of the eastern and southern sky. It meanders from the star Rigel, the brightest in constellation Orion, to the right and almost overhead to the bright star Achernar.
From Australia, between 9pm and 10pm AEDT, face north-east. Using the finder chart in yesterday's Cosmobite locate the brightest star, Rigel, in constellation Orion. Now, with binoculars, scan slowly above and to the left of Rigel.
Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) passes closest to Earth just before 7:30pm AEDT today. It will be at a distance of about 70 million km. Astrophotographers Terry Lovejoy (left) and Phil Hart at the 2012 CWAS David Malin Awards.
The "Christmas comet", Lovejoy, keeps on brightening. It is just visible to the naked eye, but binoculars give the best view. From Australia and NZ look towards the East at around 9pm. Use this finder chart, from Sky and Telescope magazine to locate the comet.
On January 5, 2005 the dwarf planet and trans-Neptunian object Eris was discovered. It was named after the Greek goddess of Strife and Discord - quite appropriately. Eris brought on the debate about the definition of a planet and subsequently the demotion of Pluto to a dwarf planet.
Peter posted a question on our Lights in The Sky page asking: Can I see the Moon’s Bay of Rainbows from Melbourne (S/E Australia)? Yes, you can see it from Melbourne, and from anywhere on Earth.
Today's Cosmobite is by Sam Knox, an astronomy guide at MAAS - Sydney Observatory. Almost directly above Sydney at 9 pm tonight is an area of the sky that is particularly dark. So dark that to see anything, you need to stare at one spot in the sky with a very powerful telescope for over 11 days before you can see anything clearly.
Welcome to 2015! The year ahead is a busy one for astronomy. Major events and anniversaries to look out for include: January: Catch comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy with binoculars, or with luck by eye! March 13-14: Sydney City SkyWatchers 120th anniversary event March 20: total eclipse of the Sun, but only visible from parts of the northern hemisphere Late March-early April: Dawn spacecraft arrives at dwarf planet and largest asteroid Ceres April 4: total eclipse of the Moon visible from Australia April 24: 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope July 14: New Horizons spacecraft passes Pluto - look out for early images from May July 31: A "Blue Moon" for Australia October 9: An occultation, or "hiding", of Venus by the Moon November 25: centenary of the publication of Einstein's General Relativity - "The Field Equations of Gravitation" And finally, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the first measurements made by the Narrabri Stellar Intensity Interferometer - this measured the diameters of normal stars, established the temperature scale of stars and helped found the field of Quantum Optics...more about the importance of all this as the year rolls on.