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

Tree and cloud

Photo of the Week. Lonely friends visit against a pale blue sky.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, June 23, 2006.

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

The week begins with the Moon in an ultraslim waning crescent phase just shy of new, that phase passed on Saturday, June 25. For the remainder of the week, the Moon will grow as a waxing crescent, the first quarter not to be met until July 3. If you have a clear horizon, the very thin crescent will be visible low in the west- northwest in bright twilight the evening of Monday the 26th. Look for Mercury rather well to the left. By the next night, Tuesday the 27th, the slightly fatter crescent will fall to the right of Saturn and above Mercury, while the following evening (Wednesday the 28th), the growing Moon will lie just above fainter Mars, these planets making a lovely setting for the partially illuminated lunar disk, whose nighttime side will be aglow with Earthlight. The night of Thursday the 29th, look for the Moon to the right of Leo's Regulus.

Mars and Saturn had their long-anticipated conjunction last Saturday, the 17th. Mars, closer and faster-moving than Saturn, has now pulled well to the east of the ringed planet. Saturn, which now sets around 10:30 PM Daylight Time, will be gone from view toward the end of July. Mars currently sets right after Saturn. Keeping better orbital pace with Earth, however, the red planet will be seen in bright twilight well into August. With these planets slowly disappearing, the night sky then belongs to very bright Jupiter, which hangs out in far western Libra about two-thirds of the way from Spica in Virgo to Libra's Zubenelgenubi. Crossing the meridian to the south about half an hour after sunset, the planet dominates the south and southwestern sky until it sets around 2:30 AM. After a brief hiatus with no naked- eye planets (though sixth-magnitude Uranus in Aquarius is technically naked-eye, it is tough to find), Venus enters the eastern scene just as morning twilight commences about 3:30 AM. The brilliant planet rather nicely tracks dawn until September, at which point it will begin to disappear into bright twilight.

Bright, kite-shaped Bootes (well marked by orange Arcturus), which rides nearly overhead in early evening, begins a wonderful parade of five constellations. Progressively to the east and northeast of the Herdsman, find Corona Borealis (the northern Crown), Hercules, Lyra (the Harp or Lyre) with Vega, and finally Cygnus (the Swan) with Deneb marking its tail. By the morning hours it is the Swan that flies high, when dark moonless skies allow us to see the glorious Milky Way.
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