Astronomy news for the three week period starting Friday,
August 23, 2013.
During this extended period, the Moon goes through three-fourths of
its phase cycle. We start with our closest neighbor in its waning gibbous phase. It then passes
through third quarter on Wednesday, August
28, close to the meridian in the
morning, allowing a near perfect phase to be seen. After just over
a week's run in the waning crescent, as
seen in the eastern morning sky, the Moon goes through new on
Thursday, September 5. Flipping to the other side of the Sun, the
waxing crescent then pops
up in the western evening sky as it heads toward first quarter on Thursday the 12th and our triple
week winds down. As the month changes, the Moon goes through apogee, where it
is farthest from the Earth.
Look for the waning crescent to make a nice pairing with Jupiter (the planet to the left)
the morning of Saturday the 31st. By the following morning, the
Moon will lie roughly between Jupiter and reddish Mars. The morning of Monday the 2nd, Mars will appear up
and to the left of the Moon. After a bit of a wait while the Moon
passes the Sun, the waxing
crescent will make a lovely sight with Venus the early evening of Sunday the 8th,
with Spica down and to the right.
By the following evening the growing crescent will be to the left
As long as you look early and have a clear horizon,
Venus is now obvious in western evening skies. In early
September it finally makes the transition to setting after the end
of formal twilight, though not by much. Saturn is right behind, at
the start of our period setting at 10:30 PM Daylight Time, while at
the end it's down by about 9 PM, half an hour past twilight's end.
The next bright light in the sky is Jupiter, which as we begin our
period rises around 2:30 AM in central Gemini, the time moving up to near midnight local time
(1 AM Daylight) as we conclude. Moving rapidly to the east against
the stellar background, Mars comes up about 3:30 AM, starting in
late August in southeastern Gemini pointed downward to by Castor and Pollux, and ending in central Cancer just to the southeast of the Beehive Cluster. Look for a
special sight the mornings of Sunday the 8th and Monday the 9th,
when Mars will pass right through (against the background of) the
cluster. In lesser news, Mercury is in superior
conjunction with the Sun (on the other side of it) on Saturday the
24th, while Neptune
passes opposition to the Sun two days later.
Visit in mid-evening with Sagittarius, which will be crossing the southern
meridian. Far above it and nearly overhead will be Vega at the northwest apex of the Summer Triangle. To the west of
Vega lies Hercules, to the east, Cygnus, with Deneb at the northeast apex, while Altair anchors it at the southern.
To the north of Altair find the tiny figure of Sagitta, which looks like the
Arrow it is supposed to be, while to the northeast of Altair is
equally small Delphinus, the
Dolphin, which looks something like a hand with a finger pointing