Photo of the Week. Odd convective clouds parcel the
Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, April 24,
The next skylights will appear May 8, 2015.
A fat waxing crescent opens our
fortnight, first quarter hit right
behind the evening of Saturday, April 25, the phase beautifully
reached as the sky darkens and night descends. After waxing
through its gibbous phase, our Moon then
passes full the evening of Sunday, May 3,
with the Moon already high in the sky. The period ends with the
Moon fading in the waning gibbous, third quarter not reached until next week on
Monday the 11th.
The first quarter will make a fine sight to the southwest of
Jupiter the evening of Saturday the 25th, while the following
evening finds the growing gibbous to the southeast of the giant
planet. A further night puts the Moon right below the star Regulus. With the Sun climbing to
the north of the celestial equator,
the full Moon will be south of it, set within the dim stars of Libra. The bright post-full Moon
then takes on Saturn, appearing to the northwest of the
ringed planet the night of Monday the 4th, to the northeast of it
the following night.
To Jupiter and Saturn, we add brilliant Venus, which is
still setting later each evening, not until after 11 PM Daylight
time. In May's earliest days, Venus lies more or less on a line
between Orion's Betelgeuse down and to the left,
and Auriga's Capella up and to the right.
Jupiter makes something of a statement as it invisibly transits
the meridian to around the time of
sunset, appearing then high to the southwest as twilight ends,
which is about when Saturn rises in the southeast to the northwest of Antares. With a good horizon, you
might also spot Mercury
in the northwest after sunset.
As we pass the first of May (actually May Eve), a cross-quarter
day that marks the halfway point of spring as we head toward
summer, the winter constellations,
Canis Major and the like, take
leave. Look high for orange Arcturus, marginally the brightest
star of the northern hemisphere, then into the northeast for
number two, Lyra's Vega. Number 3, Capella, is escaping with the rest
of the winter gang. To the northwest of Arcturus, the Big Dipper of Ursa Major rides nearly overhead for those in mid-