Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

Scout Report Selection Webivore Selection SpaceCareers Selection

Skylights featured nine times on Earth Science Picture of the Day: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


Photo of the Week. The ocean storm develops.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, June 10, 2011.

We begin with the Moon in the waxing gibbous phase just two days past its first quarter (which took place on Wednesday, June 8). It will fatten until it reaches full phase on Wednesday the 15th, after which it will begin to fade in the waning gibbous. The evening of Friday the 10th, the Moon will be positioned to the southeast of Saturn and to the southwest of Spica, the three again making a nice triangle. Then the following evening, look for Saturn, Spica, and the Moon to make a northwest-to-southeast string. A little later in the week, the waxing gibbous Moon brackets Scorpius, lying up and to the right of the Scorpion the night of Monday the 13th then positioned just to the left of Antares on that of Tuesday the 14th. With the Sun nearing the Summer Solstice in classical Gemini (technically just over the border into Taurus), this full Moon (the "Rose Moon" or "Flower Moon") will fall near the Winter Solstice in Sagittarius as it glides low across the nighttime sky as viewed from North America. On the night of Saturday the 11th, the Moon passes perigee, where it is closest to Earth.

This full Moon will undergo an almost exactly central total eclipse. Unfortunately for North America, it takes place in mid-afternoon on Wednesday the 15th with the Moon firmly below the horizon. Best visibility embraces Africa, India, the Indian Ocean, and Antarctica (so if you are there, take a look).

The evening planetary sky belongs solely to Saturn, which now transits the meridian to the south shortly before sunset, so is nicely into the southwestern sky by dark, but still does not set until 2 AM Daylight Time. On the night of Monday the 13th, the ringed planet ends its slow retrograde motion (westerly against the stars) and begins normal easterly movement as it nearly butts up against the star Porrima (Gamma Virginis), the two a mere quarter-degree apart.

With the progressively earlier rising of bright and unmistakable Jupiter (now up by 3 AM Daylight, well in advance of twilight) and the superior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun on Sunday the 12th, the planetary grouping we have been following is quite broken up. Instead, we now see Jupiter, then Mars (rising half an hour after the commencement of dawn), and finally Venus (rising half an hour after Mars) making a long easterly line that falls down and to the left.

Two Crowns grace the near-summer sky. In the north, find the semi- circular Northern Crown, Corona Borealis, to the northeast of Arcturus, the figure commemorating Ariadne of Theseus and the Minotaur fame. Lying just below the main figure of Sagittarius, Corona Australis slides across the southern horizon to the east of the lower curve of Scorpius, but you need to have the Moon out of the way to see it.
Valid HTML 4.0!