Skylights featured five times on Earth Science
Picture of the Day: 1
Photo of the Week. The waning crescent Moon rather
distantly visits twilight Venus the morning of February 24, 2006.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, March 31, 2006.
No April fool here, all good stuff.
The Moon begins our week in its waxing crescent phase. Passing
through first quarter on Wednesday, April 5, it continues in the
waxing gibbous. The night of Friday, March 31st, the lunar
crescent will be visible low in the west northwest. It then has a
busy week. Climbing upward, it makes a beautiful pass through
(for eastern and central North America) and then
beyond the Pleiades star
cluster in Taurus the night of
Saturday, April 1 (really!). The following evening, the Moon will
make a fine triangle with Mars and Aldebaran, at which time the red
planet will lie almost directly above the star as seen from North
America. Then on the night of Monday, April 3, the Moon will make
yet another triangle with Mars and Elnath, Beta Tauri, with the bright
star Capella off and to the
right. Then a bit later, watch, as the Moon (because of its
orbital tilt well north of the solar ecliptic) glides just south of
Pollux in Gemini the night of Wednesday, April 5th, and then
north of Saturn the
evening of Thursday, the 6th.
Saturn, the great current evening planet, ceases
retrograde on Wednesday, April 5th, and thereafter resumes its
slow easterly trek through the constellations of the Zodiac, each one holding the
planet for about two years. Find it now southwest of the Beehive cluster in Cancer. As Saturn now transits the
meridian to the south early, around 7:30 PM, it is slowly being
replaced by much brighter Jupiter, which rises
around 9 PM still firmly ensconced within eastern Libra. Bright and redly beautiful,
Mars, only slowly falling behind orbiting Earth, still does not set
until after midnight. If you wait out the night, you can see
rising just before 4 AM in advance of the onset of
As Sirius and Canis Major slip to the west, Argo, the ship of the Argonauts, takes its place, its
bright stars -- far to the south -- assuming no clear pattern. The
huge ancient ship now comes in three pieces, Carina the Keel, Puppis
the Stern, and Vela the Sails.
Only part of Puppis is easily seen from most of mid-North-America (to the
left of and below Canis Major), while
Carina, which holds Canopus, the
second brightest star, and Vela are mostly well out of sight below
the southern horizon for the northern part of the continent.