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


Photo of the Week. A morning cloud points toward sunrise.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, April 20, 2007.

The week begins with the Moon in its crescent phase. Heading toward its first quarter on the night of Monday, April 23 (about the time of Moonset in North America), it will finish the week in its waxing gibbous phase. Look for the first quarter rather well above the ecliptic to the east of Gemini's Pollux and Castor. Passing Venus after they both have set the night of Thursday the 19th, the Moon will appear well above the brilliant planet to the west on the evening of Friday the 20th. Just above the Moon, find Elnath, Beta Tauri, which makes the northern horn of Taurus, the Bull.

Even after the Moon moves on, the western evening sky will present us with a fine sight. Venus, of course, tops everything. Moving into the northwest, the planet not only does not set until after 11 PM Daylight Time, but will continue to set ever later for yet another month. At the moment, it's making a fine triangle with Taurus's Hyades (down and to the left of the planet) and the Pleiades (down and to the right). On Saturday the 21st, Venus will pass seven degrees to the north of Aldebaran.

Saturn of course also continues to make its mark. Passing the meridian to the south shortly after sunset, by the time it is dark, the ringed planet has moved into western skies. Look for Regulus to the east of it. The night after the quarter Moon, that of Tuesday the 24th, the Moon will make a fine sight just to the west of Saturn. The following night finds it similarly placed relative to Regulus. As seen from the far west, the Moon will actually occult the star the morning of Thursday the 26th, the time ranging from about 2:25 AM Pacific Daylight Time in the northwest to 2:55 AM in the southwest. Then as Venus sets, Jupiter rises in the southeast to replace it, the giant planet still to the northeast of Scorpius's Antares. Mars still tracks the onset of dawn, making it hard to see.

The week features one of the better-known meteor showers of the year, the Lyrids. Appearing to emerge from the constellation Lyra, they reach a peak on the mornings of Sunday the 22nd and Monday the 23rd, when you might see up to 20 or so per hour. They have been identified as the debris of the Comet Thatcher of 1861, which has a period around the Sun of 415 years.

Among the great constellations of the sky is Argo, the Ship of the Argonauts, which is so large it is now divided into Vela (the Sails), Puppis (the Stern), and Carina (the Keel). Much of Puppis is rather well visible southeast of Canis Major. Vela (southeast of Puppis), however, requires a more southerly observing latitude, while the glories of Carina (which holds the second brightest star, Canopus) are best seen from the southern hemisphere.
Valid HTML 4.0!