Skylights featured five times on Earth Science
Picture of the Day: 1
Photo of the Week.. Morning peace.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, July 8, 2005.
Skylights now resumes its normal weekly schedule.
The Moon having passed its new phase last July 6, the week belongs
almost entirely to the waxing
crescent, the first
quarter not reached until Thursday the 14th. Though
astronomically, "new Moon" occurs when the Moon is as close to
lying between us and the Sun as possible (for a given round of
phases), culturally "new Moon" commonly also relates to the first
sighting of the slim crescent in western twilight. Watch for Earthlight on the lunar nighttime side, the glow
fading as the phase proceeds.
The Moon and planets continue their dance. On the night of Friday
the 8th, look for the crescent directly above
Mercury, Venus (the brighter) seen up and to the right of its
fainter brother planet. The two will be a mere two degrees apart.
The Moon will then nightly move up and to the left, through and
past the sickle of Leo, as it heads
toward its quarter.
As the week moves along, Venus will become ever more visible, while
Mercury -- reaching its greatest eastern elongation (where it is as
far to the east of the Sun as it will get) on
Friday the 8th -- will descend quickly into evening twilight. The
Moon then takes on
Jupiter around noon on Wednesday the 13th (the event invisible
without a telescope, which allows the planet to be seen in the
daytime), the lunar disk passing just to the south of the giant
planet. As a result, the now-fat crescent will appear to the west
of Jupiter the night of Tuesday the 12th and to the east of the
planet the following night.
Jupiter, in the southwest at nightfall, is now in direct motion,
and you will see it slowly approaching Spica in Virgo. Now fully an evening object, Jupiter sets just
after midnight daylight time just before Mars rises in the
east. Moving swiftly eastward against the stars of Pisces, the red planet has now
passed into the sky's northern hemisphere. For all practical
purposes, Saturn is
Various mythical beasts roam the nighttime sky, among them the two
Bears of the northern hemisphere, Ursa
Major and Ursa Minor. The
ancients gave us fish and birds as well, while the "modern
astronomers" of the 17th and 18th centuries gave us not just more
of these, but also smaller creatures, including the far north's Lacerta the Lizard of late summer and
autumn, and, of all things, two flies, Musca Borealis (the northern fly) and Musca Australis (the southern fly).
The former was long ago removed from the formal sky (though you can
still find it appropriately north of Aries, the Ram), while the southern one (now just
called "Musca") still holds on to its part of the deep southern sky
to the south of Crux, the Southern