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. Blue sunset.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, April 27, 2007.

This is the week of the full Moon, the "Planting Moon," the "Milk Moon," the "Flower Moon," which rather appropriately takes place on Wednesday, May 2, just a day past May Day, which in turn is the day following May Eve, a "cross-quarter day" that celebrates the halfway point between the first day of spring and that of summer. With that dreadfully long sentence out of the way, we will see the Moon waxing in its gibbous phase the early part of the week, while the last two days see it gibbously waning. Just a couple days before full, the Moon passes apogee, which will lessen the impact of the " spring tide" (so-called at every new or full Moon and having little to do with actual spring). On the morning of Friday, May 4, you can find the Moon just to the west of Antares in Scorpius, while Jupiter shines up and to the left of the pair (the star hard to see in glowing Moonlight).

The two inner planets make a vividly contrasting pair. Venus tops pretty much the whole sky right now. Shining brilliantly in the northwest during early to mid evening, and not setting until 11:30 PM Daylight Time, during the latter part of the week the planet glides between the two horns of Taurus (the Bull), Elnath on the right, Zeta Tauri on the left. Look early to see the Hyades and Pleiades well below. Mercury on the other hand is totally out of sight, as it passes superior conjunction with the Sun (when it is on the other side of the Sun) on Wednesday the 2nd, the same day as full Moon passage.

After admiring Venus, note that Saturn passes a bit of a milestone when at the end of April it crosses the meridian at sunset. By the time the sky is dark it will have moved notably into western skies, still to the west of Regulus (though moving slowly toward it). Then at 11 PM (Daylight), Jupiter rises northeast of Scorpius. For the next four hours, the two giants of the Solar System will share the sky, until Saturn finally sets around 3 AM. Finally (for the planets), Mars, still shyly hiding in dawn, is passed by even more difficult-to-see Uranus on Saturday the 28th.

With Spring in full swing, we can again admire its harbinger, Leo, which stands high to the south as the sky darkens, its luminary Regulus at the end of the "Sickle" that makes the Lion's head. Well down and to the left will be Virgo's Spica. Almost exactly in between the two is the Autumnal Equinox, where we will find the Sun on the first day of autumn. Below the two figures winds Hydra the Water Serpent, one of the longest constellations in the sky.
Valid HTML 4.0!