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Greenland 12

Photo of the Week. Planet Earth: the sixth of twelve in the "Flight across Greenland," going from east to west above the fantastic glacier and a river of ice. See full resolution.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, March 7, 2014.

Remember that Daylight Savings Time starts on Sunday, March 9. All times below are Daylight.

The night of Friday, March 7, sees the Moon as a fat waxing crescent as it approaches first quarter, which will be passed the morning of Saturday the 8th well after Moonset. The remainder of the week is spent with the Moon in its waxing gibbous phase as it heads towards full on Sunday the 16th. The evening of Friday the 7th, the Moon will make a fine sight to the left of the Hyades cluster just up and to the left of Aldebaran (which does not belong to the cluster). The following night, the waxing crescent will appear over Orion, then on the evening of Sunday the 9th look for it down and to the right of Jupiter. By the night of Monday the 10th, the Moon will have flipped to the other side, appearing down and to the left of the giant planet. The afternoon of Tuesday the 11th, the Moon passes apogee, where it is farthest from the Earth, just over five percent more distant than average.

The planets are nicely arrayed all over the sky. As evening twilight draws to a close, Jupiter crosses the meridian high to the south and begins its slow slide into the northwest still within the confines of Gemini to the southwest of Castor and Pollux. It finally sets around 4 AM. An hour later, brilliant Venus rises to dominate the sky until the Sun comes up and Venus appears as a tiny naked eye blip in the clear blue celestial sea. In between, Mars rises around 10 PM to the northeast of Virgo's Spica, then transits the meridian about 3:30 AM as it enters the western celestial hemisphere just before Jupiter sets. As Mars approaches its early-April opposition to the Sun, it's brightened to magnitude minus one, behind only Venus, Jupiter, and the sky's brightest star, Sirius in Canis Major. Mars is followed by the midnight rising of Saturn, which lies in the heart of Libra to the northwest of Antares in Scorpius. Don't confuse reddish Antares with Mars, which lies to the west of Saturn. The ringed planet then transits the meridian about as Venus rises. Finally, we are left with little Mercury, which passes its greatest western elongation of 28 degrees to the west of the Sun on Friday the 14th. Rising only in twilight, however, it's still a difficult catch.

Not so of the bright stars. As evening draws to a close, the Winter Six still ride high. The most prominent of them, Orion (with bright Betelgeuse and Rigel), is accompanied by Taurus (and Aldebaran) to the northwest, Auriga (with Capella) to the north, Gemini (with Castor and Pollux) to the northeast, Canis Minor (with Procyon) to the east, and finally the Big Dog, Canis Major (with Sirius) to the southeast. Below Orion look for box-like Lepus, the Hare, and to the northwest the star streams of Perseus, the most easterly of the constellations of the Andromeda myth.
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