Photo of the Week. Good morning to the third quarter
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, June 4, 2010.
Skylights now resumes its normal weekly schedule.
We begin the week with the Moon going through its last
quarter the afternoon of Friday, June 4, after Moonset in North
America. It will rise the night of Saturday the 5th just a bit
past that phase. The rest of the week sees it fading in its waning crescent as it heads
toward new the morning of Saturday the 12th about the time of
Sunrise. Your last look at the ultrathin
crescent in eastern dawn will be the morning of Friday the
The week, focussing on Sunday, June 6, is remarkable for its
passages and conjunctions. The mornings of Saturday the 5th and
Sunday the 6th, the Moon will make fine pairings with Jupiter, first
appearing up and to the right of the giant planet (which now rises
around 2 AM Daylight Time) and then closer and up and to the left
of it. Not only will the Moon pass 7 degrees north of Jupiter, it
will at the same time pass 6 degrees north of Uranus, no
surprise since Jupiter and Uranus are also on that same morning in
conjunction with each other, Uranus just half a degree to the
north. If you have a telescope or even binoculars, this is a grand
chance to find the dim (6th magnitude) outer planet.
shines brightly in the southwest after sundown, not setting until
midnight Daylight Time, shortly before Jupiter rises. For the past
weeks, the planet has been approaching Regulus in Leo, and on that same remarkable morning, Sunday the
6th, it will pass just under a degree north of the star, the two
making a fine color contrast, the reddish planet highlighted
against a stellar blue-white, Mars just a bit the brighter of the
pair. During this time we have a fine opportunity to watch planetary motion as Mars moves to
the east of the star, seen closest the nights of Saturday the 5th
and Sunday the 6th.
And we are not yet done. Remember Venus? Not setting
until 11 PM, the brilliant planet dominates the early northwestern
sky. On Wednesday the 9th, Venus will pass 5 degrees south of Pollux in Gemini, the star (with Castor) seen up and to the right of
the planet. And there is still more. Though Mercury is making a poor morning appearance, at least note
that it will be 5 degrees south of the Moon on Thursday the 10th.
That leaves us with lonely Saturn.
Moving slowly in western Virgo,
seen just into the southwest at the end of twilight, Saturn sets
almost exactly as Jupiter rises.
Four ancient constellations come in
sets of two. Look for the Big and
Little Bears, Ursa Major and Minor, the first high in the early
evenings, the second surrounding the Pole
to the North. Canis Major and Minor, denizens of winter skies, are
now out of sight. To these, add a similar quite visible pair, Leo
and modern Leo Minor, the dim
smaller Lion riding the back of its bigger and brighter ancient