Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, August 1, 2014.
The Moon begins our week as a fat waxing
crescent, which terminates at first
quarter the night of Sunday, August 3. It then grows further
in the waxing gibbous phase as it heads
toward full next week on Sunday the
10th. We have quite a line-up in the evening sky with Spica (in the southwest), Mars, and
Saturn all in a
nice row, which then extends to Antares in Scorpius. The Moon passes by them all. The evening
of Friday the 1st, look for the growing crescent just to the west
of Spica. The following evening, it will fall between the star
and Mars, then the night of Sunday the third, the quarter lands
between Mars and Saturn. The night of Monday the 4th, it's more
or less between Saturn and Antares. Then night of Wednesday the
6th, it glides between northern Scorpius and Sagittarius, though its brightness will wash out the
many stars. All in all, it's a good show.
All we might add about these two planets is that they set ever
earlier, Mars by 11:30 Daylight Time, Saturn less than an hour
later. Then, just as dawn begins, a bit before 4:30 AM, Venus rises, though the bright planet needs a clear horizon
to be able to spot. Before long, it will be joined by Jupiter.
The Delta Aquarid meteor shower, the (possible) debris from
the periodic comet Machholz, is on the downside, but early in the
week you might catch a few.
In the early evening, follow the curve of the Big Dipper's handle to the south, and you run first
into Arcturus and then back to
Spica. The luminary of Bootes,
the Herdsman, Arcturus is the fourth brightest star of the sky,
just after Alpha Centauri of
the deep southern hemisphere, and the brightest star of the
northern hemisphere, just ahead of Vega, which sits at the northwest apex
of the Summer Triangle. To
the northeast of Arcturus, find the graceful semicircle of Corona Borealis, the Northern