Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, January 30,
Back to fortnights for a bit: thanks for your patience. The next
skylights will appear January 30, 2016.
The next skylights will appear February 13, 2015.
We begin with the Moon deep into its waxing
gibbous phase, which ends at full
Moon on Tuesday, February 3, about the time of moonrise in
North America, the Moon also gliding several degrees south of
Jupiter. The Moon thereafter fades in the waning gibbous through third quarter the night of Wednesday the
11th shortly before moonrise, the phase of the moment followed by
a bit of the waning crescent. The
night of Friday January 30 finds the Moon in eastern Taurus smack between Orion and Auriga and to the west of Gemini, which it will invade the following evening
when it will pass just north of second magnitude Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). Look the
morning of Thursday the 12th to find the Moon just to the west of
Saturn. By the following morning they will have flipped
places, the Moon then to the east of the ringed planet and north
of Antares. The Moon goes
through apogee, where
it is farthest from Earth, on Thursday the 5th.
The early evening sky hosts quite a show as brilliant Venus stands ever higher in the west, moving closer and
closer to much more modest but still bright reddish
Mars, the two preparing for a lovely conjunction on February
21. During our fortnight Mars steadily sets at 8 PM, while night
by night Venus climbs toward it. On the other side of the sky,
the second brightest of planets, Jupiter, rises near the Leo-Cancer
border around sunset, the giant planet
passing opposition with the Sun on Friday
the 6th, when it crosses the meridian to the south at midnight and
sets as the Sun comes up. Dimming, Comet Lovejoy
climbs to the west of Perseus.
Amidst all this activity, Venus invisibly passes just 0.8 degrees
south of Neptune the
morning of Sunday the first of February.
Not that the media will let you, but on Monday, February 2,
don't forget to celebrate Groundhog Day, a "cross-quarter day"
that marks the halfway point from winter to spring.