Photo of the Week. Planet Earth: the last of twelve
in the "Flight across Greenland," going from east to west above
the fantastic glacier. See full
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, May 2, 2014.
There are no more eclipses of either the Sun or Moon
until October, so we can relax to admire the simple Moon itself as
it goes through its eternal phases. This week we get to see it
wax as a crescent, night by night
climbing ever higher in the western evening sky until it reaches
first quarter the night of Tuesday, May 6. It
thereafter enters the waxing gibbous
phase as it heads toward full Moon next
week. The evening of Friday the 2nd, the crescent will lie rather
well down and to the right of Jupiter, while the
following evening the sight will be especially good with the Moon
almost directly below the giant planet. First quarter will lie to
the appear of Regulus in Leo.
Four planets remain scattered across the sky. Jupiter
dominates early evening, setting shortly before local midnight.
Rising in the southeast, Jupiter's brother planet Saturn crosses the meridian to the south shortly
thereafter, In between is reddish Mars, which lies to the
south an hour after the end of twilight, the latter two with us
all evening. At the end of the trail is
Venus. Rising about as dawn begins, look for it in morning
twilight to the east rather low above the horizon. It's hard
Early May is known for one of the finer meteor showers of the
year, the Eta Aquarids,
which will peak the mornings of May 5 through 7 with the Moon
quite out of the way, rendering the skies dark before dawn. The
shower comes from the debris from
Halley's Comet hitting our atmosphere, as do the Orionids of
October. The Eta Aquarids, which come out of Aquarius, are at their best from the southern
hemisphere, where you might see one a minute.
The usual suspects creep across the sky. Leo, with its prominent
Sickle (which represents the
Lion's head), roars high in early evening, followed by Virgo, which now holds Mars well
to the northwest of Spica and to
the south of the star Porrima.
Just to the north of Leo are the dim stars that mark the "modern"
constellation of Leo Minor, the Lesser Lion, invented
in the 17th century by Johannes
Hevelius. To the southwest of the Sickle lies the ragged head of Hydra, the Water Serpent, which snakes below both Leo