Photo of the Week. Hull-down on the horizon, a pair
of ships shows that the Earth really is curved.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, June 24, 2011.
Our circling Moon fades away this week as a waning crescent as it heads toward its new
phase on the morning of Friday, July 1. Your last view of it
(difficult at best) will be the morning of Thursday, June 30. On
the morning of Sunday the 26th, look for the Moon to pass five
degrees to the north of Jupiter. The
morning of Tuesday, June 28, the Moon will then be part of a
memorable stack of rising objects, from top to bottom the Pleiades of Taurus, the crescent aglow with Earthlight, Mars
, then farther down the vee-shaped Hyades cluster with the star Aldebaran (which outshines
similarly-colored Mars by half a magnitude). The following
morning, the thinner crescent will appear down and to the left of
Mars (and to the left of the Hyades), between the red planet and
Mars makes a bit of a transition in that it now rises in a dark sky
around 3:30 AM just before the start of twilight. Much brighter
Jupiter, up at 2 AM (Daylight Time), beats it by an hour and a
half. We get a longer evening view of
Saturn. Well into the western sky as darkness falls, the
ringed planet does not set until half an hour after local midnight
(1:30 AM Daylight time), half an hour before Jupiter rises,
preventing both from being visible at the same time.
In evening twilight, at the end of the week
Mercury makes a bit of an appearance to the left of Gemini's Castor and Pollux, which point more or less at
it (the three a difficult sight). Back into the morning, Venus,
which has been with us all year, is essentially gone (though
spottable with a clear eastern horizon). Finally, at the rim of
the planetary system, Pluto
(set against the Milky Way in Sagittarius), passes opposition to the
Sun on the night of Monday the 27th.
Saturn and Virgo's Spica make a fine pair of similar
brightness, the planet to the northwest of the star and right next
to third magnitude Porrima (Gamma
Virginis). Follow the two on a line down and to the left, and they
point at bright (but to northerners underappreciated) Lupus, the Wolf, which lurks down
and to the right of Scorpius.