Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

Scout Report Selection Webivore Selection SpaceCareers Selection

Skylights featured on Earth Science Picture of the Day: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7

Rippled Sunset

Photo of the Week. A sunset pathway stretches to a seemingly infinite horizon.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, January 5, 2007.

As Skylights resumes its normal weekly schedule, Happy New Year to all.

Skylights begins 2007 with the Moon in its waning gibbous phase, our ever-constant companion passing through its third quarter on Thursday, January 11. A day before the quarter, the Moon passes apogee, where it is farthest from the Earth in its monthly round. Early in the week the Moon takes on Saturn, appearing to the west of the planet the night of Friday the 5th, and then to the east of it the following night when it will also be just barely to the north of Leo's Regulus. The morning of the Thursday the 11th, the Moon will then be seen to the west of Virgo's Spica, while by the following morning it will have flipped to the other side. (The Moon will occult, or cover, both stars, Regulus as seen from far northern latitudes, Spica as seen from far southern. The Moon also clips Saturn as viewed from the far north).

Jupiter is now beautifully visible in the morning southeastern dawn sky in Ophiuchus just to the east of Scorpius and a few degrees to the north of the Scorpion's luminary, Antares. Formal conjunction took place on Thursday the 4th. Almost impossible to see, Mars is far down and to the left. It's still Saturn that steals the planetary show, however, as the ringed planet now rises just before 8 PM to the west of Regulus. By 3 AM they are high to the south, and by dawn have slipped into the west. While Venus is now nicely visible in bright southwestern evening twilight, setting just before the sky fully darkens, Mercury is entirely gone, as it passes superior conjunction with the Sun on Sunday the 7th. Keep looking though for Venus, whose visibility will improve markedly as the month rolls on.

With a little luck, you might get to see Comet McNaught low in the southwest after sundown.

The sky is filled with triangles, the best known being the Winter Triangle of Betelgeuse, Procyon, and Sirius, which cuts across three constellations (Orion, Canis Minor, and Canis Major), and the similar Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair (of Lyra, Cygnus, and Aquila). Two more triangles make full constellations, Triangulum (the Triangle itself), located south of the curve of Andromeda, and much larger modern Triangulum Australe of the far southern hemisphere. A smaller modern "Triangulum Minus" near classic ancient Triangulum is no longer officially recognized (but of course is still there).
Valid HTML 4.0!