Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

Scout Report Selection Webivore Selection SpaceCareers Selection

Skylights featured on Earth Science Picture of the Day: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7

Canadian Sunset

Photo of the Week. Canadian sunset.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, August 17, 2007.

The Moon begins the week in its waxing crescent phase bound for first quarter the night of Monday, August 20, just about the time it is crossing the meridian to the south in late daylight in North America, making for a near-perfect half- Moon. Just two days before the quarter, the Moon passes apogee, where it is five or so percent farther from Earth than average, and thus appears about five percent smaller than average (the effect not visible to the eye).

As the Moon then waxes in its gibbous phase, it will make a fine sight with Antares (in Scorpius) and Jupiter the night of Tuesday the 21st as it passes just barely south of the star with bright Jupiter looking almost directly down upon the pair. Watch next as the Moon transits between Scorpius and Sagittarius and then as it invades the heart of Sagittarius's "Teapot" the night of Thursday the 23rd.

Saturn passes formal conjunction with the Sun on Tuesday the 21st, and is thus quite invisible, along with Venus, which passes inferior conjunction on Friday the 17th, and Mercury, which went through solar conjunction LAST week. The remaining two ancient planets, Jupiter and Mars, respectively hold court in the evening and the morning. Jupiter now crosses the meridian just before sundown and is quite obvious in the southwest as the sky becomes dark. It makes a fine sight and contrast with the red supergiant Antares just below it. It sets around 12:15 Daylight Time, just a few minutes before Mars rises in the east. In Taurus, the red planet's placement is every bit as pretty as Jupiter's, if not more so, as it is beautifully located between the Hyades cluster (which makes the Bull's head) and the Pleiades.

The mythical sky is loaded with several strongmen. Winter gives us Orion, Auriga (the Charioteer), and Perseus (not to mention the twins, Gemini), while the summer skies are stomped by Bootes (the Herdsman who drives the Ursa Major, the Great Bear), Ophiuchus (wrapped with Serpens), and the great Hero Hercules, who presents himself nearly overhead as the sky darkens. Look to a box of stars at the constellation's northern end, the "Keystone," which with a star map will guide your eye to one of the great clusters of the northern hemisphere, Messier 13, the "Hercules Cluster."
Valid HTML 4.0!