Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, March 28, 2008.
Skylights now resumes its normal weekly schedule.
We begin our week with the Moon just one day shy of last (3rd)
quarter, the phase passed on Saturday, March 29, in North
America during the day well before Moonrise. The remainder of the
week then sees the Moon moving through its waning crescent
phase, not reaching new until Saturday, April 5. Try to find the
slim crescent in eastern dawn the
morning of Friday the 4th.
The mornings of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (the 29th, 30th, and
31st) finds the waning Moon visiting with
Jupiter. On the first of these dates, it will shine within the
confines of Sagittarius to the west
of the bright planet, on the 30th, the Moon will be close by and to
the southwest of Jupiter, while on the 31st, it will have flipped
to the southeast of Jupiter. The Moon then rather invisibly takes
on three more planets, passing directly over
Neptune on the morning of Wednesday, April 2, then passing
Venus on Friday the 4th.
As the weather warms, we find Mars, now
moving easterly in Gemini to the
southwest of Castor, crossing the meridian to the south before sunset.
Gloriously high in the western sky at the end of twilight, the red
planet does not set (in the northwest) until nearly 3 AM Daylight
Time, just a quarter hour or so before Jupiter, rising in the
southeast, takes over.
Saturn, creeping retrograde (westerly) through Leo just to the east of Regulus (the two making a fine
pair), transits midway up the sky about 11 PM Daylight, and now
sets just after the onset of dawn.
As Orion and Canis Major slip silently to the west, there is still
time to find a clear southern horizon to admire the stars of the
great ship Argo. Of its three
parts, the only one readily visible from mid-northern latitudes is
Puppis, the Stern, which wraps
around to the south and east of the Big Dog. From farther south,
Vela (the Sails) and northern Carina (the Keel), the latter with the
second brightest star, Canopus,
come into view.