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Photo of the Week. Wind-blown clouds above the sea.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, May 23, 2014.

The Moon fades away the early part of the week in its waning crescent phase, then passes through new Moon on Wednesday, May 28th. It will make a fine sight with Venus the twilight morning of Sunday the 25th, appearing just above the brilliant cloud-covered planet. The ultrathin crescent will appear well down and to the left of Venus the following morning. Our orbiting companion then pops up as a waxing crescent in the western evening sky to the left of Mercury the night of Friday the 30th. But that's next week. For the latter part of our week, the Moon is quite out of sight, rendering the skies dark and allowing the stars to shine through. It's perfect for viewing a possibly-strong meteor shower the morning of Saturday the 24th, when the debris of a small passing comet, 209P/LINEAR, may strike the Earth. No guarantees.

Getting ever lower in darkening western skies as the weeks progress, Jupiter, in Gemini, now sets only an hour or so past the end of evening twilight and is gone well before midnight. Crossing the meridian to the south in mid-evening dusk, Mars shifts into the southwest well to the northwest of Spica in Virgo, where it has been for some time now. It sets just before dawn begins to light the eastern sky. Saturn, still in central Libra to the east of famed Zubenelgenubi, crosses to the south around midnight Daylight Time. That leaves us with the two planets inside the orbit of Earth. Venus rises in the east just after the morning sky begins to brighten, while Mercury is near its western-sky best, achieving greatest elongation 23 degrees east of the Sun the night of Saturday the 24th. Hard to find, the little planet sets at the end of twilight. As noted, find it to the right of the crescent Moon the evening of Friday the 30th.

The summer stars are moving in. To the southeast of Saturn and Libra, find obvious Scorpius and its luminary, the red supergiant Antares. Above it is the huge sprawling pentagon that makes up Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer (represented by Serpens to either side), and above that the hero Hercules, the harbinger of summer's Lyra and the bright star Vega to the east.

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