Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

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Skylights featured four times on Earth Science Picture of the Day: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 .

Anvilled Cloud

Photo of the Week.. A rising cloud begins to sport an anvil. Perhaps a thuderstorm will follow.

Astronomy news for short week starting Friday, May 30, 2003.

We begin the week in the "dark of the Moon," a rather arcane phrase that means "no moon," "darkness at night," the new Moon, which cannot be seen and that does not illuminate the nighttime landscape, the phase taking place the night of Friday, May 30, after sunset in the Americas. The night of Saturday, May 31, the Moon will technically be visible, but almost impossible to find without great dedication in north-northwest evening twilight. By Sunday, June 1, the Moon will be more obvious as a slim waxing crescent above Saturn , which is disappearing into twilight and will be quite difficult to find. The following night, on Monday, June 2, the growing crescent will be obvious and planted smack in the middle of Gemini below Castor and Pollux, which stare back at us like a pair of celestial eyes. Then look the night of Tuesday the 3rd to find our lunar companion in a line and to the left of the two stars. By the night of Wednesday the 4th, the Moon will appear to the northwest of bright Jupiter, and on Thursday the 5th well to the northeast of the giant planet and nicely nestled within the Sickle of Leo. This new Moon will produce an annular solar eclipse, the partial portions visible in Europe, Asia, parts of Canada, and Alaska (the latter on Friday the 30th)

Outside of the Moon, Jupiter now dominates the evening sky, not setting until just before local midnight (around 12:30 AM Daylight Time). It is then replaced by Mars , which on Sunday June 1st officially makes the transition to evening by rising almost exactly at local midnight (1 AM Daylight), the brightening red planet obvious in the southeast amidst the stars of Capricornus. In the morning sky, Venus and Mercury still make a nice pair, rising about an hour before sunrise, Venus to the left of the smaller planet. Mercury achieves its greatest western elongation the morning of Tuesday the 3rd, though the small planet will be hard to see in twilight's glare.

Among the fine sights of warm spring skies is the great constellation of Bootes, the Herdsman, whose bright orange star Arcturus (the brightest star of the northern hemisphere) follows the Big Dipper of Ursa Major around the pole. By the end of evening twilight, kite-shaped Bootes is preparing to cross the meridian to the south for northern-hemisphere observers. Then follows a stream of wonderful figures at about the same northerly position, first Corona Borealis (the Northern Crown), Hercules, Lyra (the Lyre or Harp) with brilliant white Vega (the star just barely fainter than Arcturus), and finally, a bit more northerly, Cygnus (the Swan), which has fine white Deneb at its northern end. To the south of Hercules lies another human figure, the huge constellation of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, forever wrapped by Serpens, the Serpent.
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