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

Full Moon

Photo of the Week. The full Moon displays its maria, dark lava flows that fill or flood out from ancient impact basins and make the "Man in the Moon." Learn their names.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, March 30, 2007.

'Tis the week of the full Moon. Preceded by a few days of the waxing gibbous, full phase is reached during the day on Monday, April 2, so it will rise just past full that night, and therefore just after sundown. The remainder of the week sees it waning in the gibbous phase toward third quarter, which does not take place until next week. The traditional names of the April full Moon -- Grass Moon, Egg Moon, Planter's Moon -- reflect the warming of days under the spring Sun. As the Sun climbs higher to the north, the full Moon drops lower to the south, this one taking place in Virgo. Watch for it the night of Monday the 2nd just to the west of Spica. Less than a day after full phase, the Moon passes apogee, where it is farthest from the Earth.

While Venus climbs ever higher into each western evening sky, Saturn shifts more and more in the opposite direction. Not setting until 10:30 Daylight Time, the second planet from the Sun quite rules early-to-mid-evening. Almost an hour before Venus sets, you can find the ringed planet to the south between Leo and Cancer and to the west of Regulus. Jupiter now makes two transitions, first by beginning to rise before local midnight (1 AM Daylight) as it formally moves into the evening sky; second by ceasing its normal easterly motion against the stars on Thursday the 5th and beginning this year's retrograde (westerly) motion as the Earth prepares to swing between it and the Sun. Antares, to the southwest of the giant planet, will provide a fine marker against which to see Jupiter's increasing motion, much as Regulus now does for Saturn. A few days earlier, on Friday the 30th, Pluto, in extreme northwestern Sagittarius and not that far from Jupiter (at least in angle, but almost six times farther away), enters retrograde as well. To finish things off, Mercury (in bright morning twilight) passes conjunction with Uranus on Sunday the 1st, while the rising of Mars still tracks the cracking of dawn.

Three pairs of constellations come in major and minor forms. The best known are ancient Canis Major/Minor (Big and Small Dogs) and Ursa Major/Minor (Big and Small Bears). These are so prominent that we little note Leo and Leo Minor, the Big and Small Lions, the little one faintly riding the back of the big one. Look for it roughly between Leo the pairs of stars that make the feet of Ursa Major.
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