Photo of the Week. While we appreciate the return of
spring, a winter dawn has its own beauty.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, April 6, 2007.
Our Moon starts off our week in its waning gibbous phase. Passing through third quarter on
Tuesday, April 10, about the time of moonset in North America, it
then spends the remainder of the period thinning as a waning crescent. Watch as the
waning gibbous plows through Scorpius. The morning of Saturday the 7th finds the
Moon passing just south of Antares, while the following morning
it glides six degrees to the south of
Jupiter. The quarter takes place far to the south in eastern
Sagittarius. Finally, the morning
of Friday the 13th, the crescent will lie to the west of Mars, which might allow
you to find the planet in growing dawn. The fat side of the
crescent will point to the east right at it.
As brilliant as western evening's
Venus is, it's hard to believe that it keeps getting better and
better, this current Venusian season about as good as it gets.
Shining at magnitude -4, eleven times brighter than Sirius (the sky's brightest star),
the planet illuminates a darkened sky, not setting until after
10:30 PM Daylight Time. Moving eastward, we find
Saturn. On the Cancer-Leo border to the west of Regulus, the planet makes a sort of
transition by passing the meridian to the south just as twilight
ends around 9 PM. Then it's Jupiter's turn. Watch for the giant
planet (which is just beginning its westerly
retrograde motion) rising half an hour before local midnight
(12:30 AM Daylight) to the northeast of Antares. About half an
hour before Jupiter transits the meridian (still in twilight), Saturn
finally sets. Elusive Mars, as noted above, hangs out in dawn's
While we in the north glory in our "ancient" constellations, with some "moderns"
(only a few hundred years old) thrown in, the deep southern hemisphere, which is invisible
from classical lands, must make do with only moderns. They range
from the renowned (famed Crux, the
Southern Cross, and Centaurus,
holder of Alpha Centauri, the
nearest star) to a set of small figures that hover near the southern celestial pole that include Volans (a Flying Fish), Musca (the Fly), Chamaeleon (just what you'd expect), and Apus, the fabled Bird of