Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

Scout Report Selection Webivore Selection SpaceCareers Selection

Skylights featured nine times on Earth Science Picture of the Day: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 -- Full List Restored!


Photo of the Week. Amidst the clouds.

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 of Saturn.

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 south.
Valid HTML 4.0!