Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

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


Photo of the Week. Perspective makes clouds appear to ascend from the horizon like a vibrant celestial tree.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, March 23, 2007.

Skylights resumes its normal weekly schedule, but is presented two days early. Last week's is still available.

Beginning the week as a fat crescent, the Moon passes its first quarter early, on Sunday, March 25, about the time of Moonrise in North America. Watch as it rises ever higher in the daylight eastern sky. It then spends the rest of the week waxing in the gibbous phase towards full, which it will hit next April 2.

As it travels, the brightening Moon will make a fine passage to the north of Saturn the night of Wednesday, the 28th, close enough to actually occult the planet as seen from northern Britain, Scandinavia, and the Atlantic. The next night, that of Thursday the 29th, it's Regulus's turn, the Moon passing by about the same angle to the north of the star, Regulus also occulted as seen by roughly the same parts of the world.

Continuing its dramatic ascent relative to the Sun, not setting until just after 10 PM Daylight Time, brilliant Venus quite dominates the early evening sky. As it sets, look to the south to see Saturn crossing the meridian still to the west of Regulus in Leo. Moving slowly retrograde, the ringed planet has almost, but not quite, made it back into Cancer. To the west of Saturn lies the Beehive Cluster, which the planet passed last year, but which the bright Moon renders difficult to see.

In the morning hours, you can admire Jupiter, which now rises around local midnight and transits the southern meridian in mid-dawn. To the east of the giant planet lies Mars, whose rising for the next month will continue to track the onset of morning twilight. The event impossible to witness, Mars will pass only a degree south of much more distant and fainter Neptune on Sunday the 25th. Though lower than Mars, Mercury is more than twice as bright, and might be glimpsed in brightening eastern sky.

As Orion flees to the west, he is being chased by one of the dimmer constellations of the sky, the modern figure of Monoceros, the Unicorn, which lies to the east of him. Most of the constellation, which contains a number of the riches of the Milky Way, lies between the two Dogs, Canis Minor and Canis Major. Below Canis Major float Puppis and Carina of Argo, the ship of the argonauts, which now sails into the sunset as well.
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