Skylights now resumes its normal weekly schedule. Thanks for your
interest and patience.
The week begins with the Moon in its waxing
gibbous phase as it prepares to pass full the morning of Wednesday,
August 9, around the time of moonset in North America. It then
begins to diminish in the
waning gibbous. The night of Friday the 4th, the bright lunar
disk will shine just to the east of Antares in Scorpius. Only an hour past full, the Moon passes
south of Neptune,
while at the end of the week, the night of Thursday the 10th, it
meets up with Uranus.
Just over a day past full, the Moon passes perigee,
where and when it is closest to Earth,
giving us slightly more than average light for the phase.
passes conjunction with the Sun on Monday the 7th.
With Mars practically invisible in bright western twilight, the
evening belongs to Jupiter,
which shines gloriously out of Libra well to the east of Spica, the bright planet now setting
just before midnight Daylight Time. The morning hosts a similar,
if not better, show, with both Venus
and Mercury gracing the dawn sky. Mercury reaches greatest
western elongation from the Sun on Sunday the 6th, giving it its
best visibility. If you have never seen it (or even if you have),
find it the morning of Wednesday the 9th just below brilliant
Venus, the two almost, but not quite, in conjunction. That same
morning, Venus shines down and to the right of (and on a line
through) Gemini's Castor and Pollux.
August is "meteor month," as it hosts the best known of all
Perseids (which seem to emanate from the constellation Perseus). Though they will be at
their best the morning of Saturday the 13th, they take some time to
build up, so some may be seen toward the end of the week.
Unfortunately, the event will be much dampened by a very bright
gibbous Moon, which will wipe out all the fainter ones.
Find Arcturus over to the west.
Then look east through the graceful curve that makes Corona Borealis to one of the sky's
great heros, Hercules, which is at
his best in early August evenings. Though his stars are not all
that bright, they make a memorable pattern that at the northern end
includes the informal "Keystone," which provides a guide to that
grand globular cluster, Messier 13.