Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, May 7, 2010.
The Moon wanes in its crescent phase during almost all of the
week, not reaching new until the night of Thursday, May 13. It
will be too thin to view that morning, so your last admiring look
will be the morning of Wednesday the 12th. Before that, the fading
crescent will make a fine sight along with Jupiter the
morning of Sunday the 9th, when our companion will pass several
degrees north of the Solar System's giant. Then, if you are up
early enough to see a dark sky, the crescent can be found gliding
beneath the Great Square of
Pegasus the morning of Monday
the 10th to the left of Jupiter. On Friday the 7th and Sunday the
9th, the Moon rather invisibly visits with Neptune and Uranus.
In the evening, Venus is getting
just plain good, now not setting until over half an hour past the
end of twilight. Look early into the west-northwest to see the
brilliant planet moving easterly through central Taurus, with the Hyades and Aldebaran to the northwest.
Looking to the other planet that brackets Earth, Mars transits
the meridian before Sunset, giving it
a place in the southwest as the sky darkens. Watch it move
easterly from week to week against the background, the red planet
nicely situated between Castor-Pollux in Gemini and Regulus.
Mars will cross the boundary into Regulus's Leo at the end of the week. It then sets about two
hours after midnight Daylight Time.
That leaves the big guys. Slowly
retrograding westerly against the faint stars of western Virgo between Regulus and
transits right at the end of evening twilight. It then sets just
as morning twilight begins to light the sky just a few minutes
after Jupiter rises (about 4 AM). Look for Jupiter before the sky gets too
With the Moon moving out of the way, you might also catch a few
leftover meteors from the Eta Aquarid
shower, which is caused by the leavings of
Then its back to Leo, the celestial Lion. At the end of twilight,
the distinctive figure, with its sickle-like front end that ends in Regulus, is
beautifully positioned to the south about two-thirds of the way up
the sky. On his back, south of the Big Dipper, rides dim and modern Leo Minor, the Smaller Lion, one of the many figures
invented a few hundred years ago to fill in the blanks between the