Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

Scout Report Selection Webivore Selection SpaceCareers Selection

Skylights featured on Earth Science Picture of the Day: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7

Winter Dawn

Photo of the Week. Storms of spring give way to blue sky.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, April 13, 2007.

This is the week of the crescents, crescent Moons that is, waning in the morning sky the early part of the week, waxing in the evening during the latter part, the sequence split by the passage of new Moon on Tuesday, April 17, about the time of sunrise in North America. Just six hours before new Moon, the Moon will pass perigee, where it is closest to the Earth, the increased gravitational tug resulting in especially high and low tides at the coasts.

The morning of Saturday the 14th finds the waning crescent just to the east (to the left of and a bit below) Mars. It thus acts as a nice guide to the currently elusive red planet, whose rising still closely tracks the onset of dawn. The morning of Monday the 16th affords the last chance to see an ultrathin crescent glowing in bright twilight.

Flipping quickly to the evening sky, the first glimpse of the waxing crescent can be had the evening of Wednesday, the 18th, again in twilight. The evening of Thursday the 19th be sure to take a look at an especially nice convening of the crescent and brilliant Venus, the Moon somewhat down and to the right of the planet, not like directions are needed to find either of them. The sight is enhanced by the Pleiades star cluster, which will be down and to the right of the Moon, the three -- Venus, Moon, Pleiades -- all in a row slanting down and to the right.

Setting ever later, our "evening star" does not now go down until around 11 PM Daylight Time. Still at the Leo-Cancer border to the west of Regulus, Saturn, crossing the meridian in mid-twilight, shifts steadily toward the Sun. It's a special week for the ringed planet, as on Thursday the 19th it ceases retrograde motion and finally begins heading to the east against the stars and back toward classical Leo. Just a hour after Venus sets, around midnight Daylight Time, Jupiter rises still to the northeast of Antares in Scorpius, the rising of the Scorpion now telling us that summer is really on the way.

If it's spring, we look to Leo, which in mid-evening stands proudly high to the south. At its front lies the famed "Sickle" with Regulus on it's south-reaching handle. Toward the back, at the Lion's tail, is Denebola. The star is the western anchor of the large "Great Diamond," whose other stars are Cor Caroli (to the north in Canes Venatici under the Big Dipper's handle), Arcturus in Bootes to the east, and Virgo's Spica to the south. More or less centered within it is the lovely constellation and cluster Coma Berenices.
Valid HTML 4.0!