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

Orange sunset

Photo of the Week. An orange sunset graces the western sky.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, February 2, 2007.

Having passed full phase the night of Thursday, February 1, our Moon wanes this week in its gibbous phase, finally reaching third quarter the morning of Saturday the 10th. The night of Friday the 2nd, you'll find the just-passed-full-Moon a bit to the east of Saturn, between the ringed planet and Leo's Regulus, the trio making a fine sight during the entire night. The evening of Saturday the 3rd sees the Moon then to the east of Regulus. The Moon will occult both Saturn and Regulus as seen from the northlands, the Arctic and Greenland. Then it's Spica's turn, when the night of Wednesday the 7th, the Moon will rise to the southeast of Virgo's brightest star, which gets passed over on the other side of the world, south of South America.

Happy Groundhog Day, an astronomical holiday that falls on February 2. It honors the halfway point through winter, the Sun midway between the Winter Solstice in Sagittarius and the Vernal Equinox in Pisces.

The early evening sky is now dominated by brilliant Venus, which rules southwestern twilight. Look early, as Venus is gone a bit after 7 PM. While the sky is still fairly light, look down and to the right of Venus for Mercury, which reaches greatest eastern elongation to the Sun (a mere 18 degrees) on Wednesday the 7th. Just four hours earlier, Venus invisibly passes less than a degree south of Uranus. The outer planets continue the news as Neptune passes conjunction with the Sun on Thursday the 8th. Well before Venus sets, Saturn rises, and is with us the rest of the night, not setting until after sunrise.

Flipping to the morning sky, find bright Jupiter, which now rises around 3 AM. The late morning hours present us with a wonderful giant-planet symmetry, with Jupiter (in the southeast) just to the northeast of Antares in Scorpius, Saturn (in the west) just to the west of Regulus in Leo. It's a nice sight. Mars, which hovers in bright twilight near the eastern horizon, remains difficult to find.

While Orion crosses the evening sky, look to the southwest of it to find ancient Eridanus, the River. One of the longest constellations in the heavens, it winds to the west of Rigel and then sinks out of sight for northerners before ending in bright Achernar. Below Orion find box- like Lepus and triangular Columba, while above the Hunter are Gemini to the left, Taurus to the right, all topped by Auriga, which holds the most northerly of first magnitude stars, Capella.
Valid HTML 4.0!