Skylights featured three times on Earth Science
Picture of the Day: 1
Photo of the Week.. Star colors can be quite
vivid, as displayed at the center by the Mira variable carbon star TT Cygni, a
dying giant rich in carbon, which cuts out blue component of the
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, January 23, 2004.
From night to night the Moon climbs the western sky in its waxing crescent
phase, growing fatter each night as it approaches first
quarter the night of Wednesday, January 28 to the south of
classical Aries. The evening of
Saturday the 24th will present a special sight when the Moon is
seen to the south -- to the left as seen in the sky -- of brilliant
Venus, which is now the fabled "evening star" that lights
western twilight. Not to be outdone, fainter (but still bright)
Mars finds itself to the north of the visiting Moon the night
of Tuesday the 27th.
These two planets bracket the Earth, Venus incredibly hot and
unlivable, Mars cold but inviting to exploration, as we know from
watching the rover beginning its
rounds. In between is our remarkable Earth, in just the right
place to have a temperature that supports liquid oceans, without
which life as we know it would be impossible. Was there life on Mars?
There is no evidence for it, but as yet no one really knows. Venus
now sets around 8:30 PM, Mars just before midnight. Watch as the
two move toward each other for a rendezvous late next April and
early May, not quite coming into formal conjunction before Venus
makes a rapid descent to the west. As Venus sets, the giant of the
Solar System, Jupiter, rises. And finally, to the east
in early evening find the second biggest planet, Saturn
, which now transits the meridian to the south around 10 PM.
As January draws to a close, the Sun begins more seriously to
climb to the north as it makes the transition from Sagittarius into Capricornus. By the end of the month it will be 6
degrees farther north than the Winter
Solstice, allowing us perhaps to get a hint of spring.