Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

Scout Report Selection Webivore Selection SpaceCareers Selection

Skylights featured nine times on Earth Science Picture of the Day: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 -- Full List Restored!


`` Photo of the Week. Glitterpath.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, March 27, 2015.

Skylights' current two-week period is the result of travel and medical issues. I hope to go back to weekly reports. Thanks for your patience.

The next skylights will appear April 10, 2015.

The current fortnight is the opposite of the previous one, at least with events involving the Moon. This version of Skylights is again bracketed by the lunar quarters, but reversed. Now we begin with first quarter, which is passed on Friday, March 27, while the third quarter takes place the night of Saturday April 11, just after our period ends. Then it includes lunar apogee, with the Moon farthest from Earth, rather than perigee (closest), on Wednesday, April 1.

And now it's full Moon that is encountered, the morning of Saturday the 4th. Prior to that, the Moon waxes in its gibbous phase, while after it's in the waning gibbous. Since solar and lunar eclipses more or less come in pairs, this full Moon suffers a total eclipse. Best visibility falls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Western US and Canada, though, get to see totality, while in eastern North America, the Moon sets while it is entering full Earth shadow. Europe is shut out. The Moon enters full Earth shadow at 3:15 AM Pacific Daylight Time, hits totality at 4:54 AM. Since the Moon just skims the northern edge of full shadow, central eclipse takes place just minutes later, at 5:00 AM. Total eclipse ends at 5:06 AM, and the show is over at 6:45 AM (ignoring the penumbral stages). Add one hour for MDT, two for CDT, three for EDT.

Our two-week period also features a pair of planetary passages. The night of Sunday the 29th, the Moon will start to slide south of Jupiter, then will appear northwest of Saturn the morning of Wednesday the 8th, to the northeast of the planet the following morning. To the west in the evening we see the glory of Venus, which does not set until more than an hour past the end of twilight (two by the end of our period), somewhat after Jupiter crosses the meridian to the south. The giant planet is then with us until somewhat before dawn. Still to the west of Leo and Regulus, Jupiter ceases retrograde motion on Wednesday the 8th. By the end of our fortnight Saturn, which has just begun retrograde, is rising an hour before midnight Daylight Time northwest of Antares in Scorpius. In lesser news, Uranus passes conjunction with the Sun on Monday the 6th, while Mercury goes through superior conjunction with the Sun four days later. Mars sets as twilight ends.

Orion's two hunting dogs, Canis Major with bright Sirius and Canis Minor with Procyon, bound toward the west, both to the south of Gemini. The constellation's two bright stars, Castor and Pollux, point downward to the roundish head of Hydra, the Water Serpent, which winds far to the southeast.

Valid HTML 4.0!