Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

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Skylights featured six times on Earth Science Picture of the Day:
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6

Flocked clouds

Photo of the Week. Delicately flocked clouds lead us gently into evening.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, May 12, 2006.

Read A Minute with Jim Kaler, a brief interview on the outer bodies of the Solar System that appears on the U of I home page.

Skylights' "Picture of the Week" for February 24 was recently featured on the Earth Science Picture of the Day .

The Moon begins our week with glorious brightness in its full phase the night of Friday, May 12, after which it wanes through the gibbous to third quarter (reached a week after, the night of Friday the 19th). The night of the full Moon also sees our companion rising below bright Jupiter with Zubenelgenubi (Alpha Librae) in between, the star lost in moonlight. As the week progresses, the Moon takes on Antares (the luminary of Scorpius) the morning of Sunday the 14th, when it will appear to the west of the star. By the following morning, the Moon will have glided to the other side. In between it occults the red supergiant as seen from the South Pacific. On Friday the 19th, the Moon passes south of Neptune, the planet now in the far northeastern corner of Capricornus.

From the inside of the Solar System outward, we first find Mercury in superior conjunction with the Sun (when it is on the other side of the Sun) on Thursday the 18th. Next out, Venus is on wonderful display in the morning sky, rising just a bit after the onset of twilight and followable until bright dawn. Then back to evening with Mars. Plowing through central Gemini, the red planet descends the northwestern evening sky, but still not setting until half an hour after midnight Daylight Time. Next over in the west is Saturn in Cancer, which sets about an hour later. Finally, in early evening turn in the other direction, to the southeast, to admire bright Jupiter, which is with us nearly all night, does not cross the meridian to the south until 12:30 PM (as Mars sets), and does not itself set until bright dawn overtakes the skies.

Under-appreciated among northerners, giant Centaurus, the Centaur, skims the southern horizon south of Virgo's Spica, only his northern stars visible for anyone much north of the tropics. And too bad, as the constellation contains the closest star system to the Earth, triple Alpha Centauri, whose two brightest members conspire to produce the third visually brightest star of the sky and whose dim telescopic companion Proxima is actually the nearest of all neighbors (only 4.22 light years away). To the east is bright Lupus, the Wolf, to the southwest Crux, the famed Southern Cross.
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