Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

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

Storm clouds

Photo of the Week. Stormy skies can intensely dramatic. The photo of this remarkable early morning turbulent storm is unretouched, and just as it looked. See further development in photos 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Oddly, nothing much happened on the ground as it passed over.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, August 24, 2007.

This is the week of the full Moon, which takes place the morning of Tuesday, August 28, just about the time of moonset in North America. Earlier in the week we see the waxing gibbous phase, while after full the Moon appears in the waning gibbous. On the morning of Monday the 27th, the Moon passes just south of Neptune (which still hangs out in eastern Capricornus), then two mornings later north of Uranus (in eastern Aquarius). Three days after full, the Moon passes perigee, where it is closest to the Earth.

While the full Moon usually washes out the stars to keep us indoors, this one is special, and deserves a look, as it will pass through the shadow of the Earth and be totally eclipsed. The partial phase begins the morning of Tuesday the 28th at 3:51 AM Central Daylight Time. Add an hour for EDT, subtract 1 hour for MST, 2 hours for PST, 3 for Alaska, 5 for Hawaii. Totality starts at 4:52 AM CDT; central eclipse is at 5:37 CDT; and totality ends at 6:23 AM CDT. The partial phase then ends at 7:24 CDT. From the Great Lakes and east, however, the Moon will set during totality, so the whole show will not be visible, but it will make for an interesting sight as long as you have a clear southwestern horizon. The view improves toward the west; only from the Rockies and points west, however, will we get to see the whole thing. Take a look for one of nature's finer sights. Even though in total eclipse, the Moon will be visible from light scattered through the Earth's atmosphere into its shadow.

The nighttime bright planet scene consists of just Jupiter and Mars. Both are in fine settings. Look for Jupiter to the southwest in early evening above Antares in Scorpius. The giant planet sets around midnight Daylight Time just as Mars rises in Taurus accompanied by the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters. However, also look for Venus, which is now briefly visible in the east in mid-dawn.

Want to see an asteroid? Here's your chance. Vesta, the brightest asteroid and the fourth discovered, will pass a mere half degree north of Jupiter the night of Wednesday the 29th, the sight made rather difficult by the near full Moon. Large binoculars should still show it. With a diameter of 500 kilometers (310 miles), Vesta is the third largest asteroid. It orbits the Sun every 3.6 years at an average distance of 2.4 Astronomical Units (the AU the average distance between Earth and Sun). While looking (with binoculars), note Jupiter's satellites strung out to the side.

In early evening look from Polaris to the south-southwest along a line that takes you through a stack of major constellations from Ursa Minor at the north celestial pole, through winding Draco, then down through Hercules, Ophiuchus and Serpens (which straddle the celestial equator), then finally into great Scorpius, which is currently nicely marked by Jupiter.
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