Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, August 31,
Skylights will resume its normal weekly schedule on Friday,
The Moon spends much of the fortnight going through the latter part
phase cycle. Beginning with the waning
gibbous, it passes third quarter the
morning of Monday, September 3, then wanes in the crescent phase until it passes new on
Tuesday the 11th. The night of Wednesday the 12th, you might get
your first view of the thin waxing
crescent in evening twilight.
Eclipses of the
Sun come in pairs. We had a lunar eclipse at the last full
Moon, and this new Moon will eclipse the Sun. But don't look for
it here. The
eclipse, only partial, will be seen only in South America and
The morning of the quarter, Monday the 3rd, watch the Moon visit
the Pleiades star cluster in
Taurus; then the following
morning it passes few degrees to the north of Mars, these two and Aldebaran making a nice triangle.
Then the morning of Saturday the 8th, the waning crescent will rise
up and to the left of Venus
, which is now beginning to make an appearance. The morning of
Sunday the 9th, you might catch an even thinner crescent lying
above Saturn and Regulus, which will be separated by
only a degree or so. These two will actually both be occulted by
the Moon, but not as seen from North America.
Though setting ever earlier, around 11:30 PM Daylight Time, Jupiter still
dominates the evening. Look for it in the southwest still above Antares in Scorpius. Mars, rising in Taurus between Aldebaran and
Elnath (Zeta Tauri) shortly after
Jupiter sets, is getting less lonely now that Venus is moving back
into view. As the fortnight begins, Venus rises at just as dawn
begins, while by the end of the period it will have become much
more visible, rising an hour before the beginning of morning
twilight. At the beginning of our period in
retrograde, Venus begins its direct easterly motion relative to
the stars on Friday the 7th. For some time to come, for the rest
of the year and into 2008, the planets that bracket the Earth --
Mars and Venus -- will share the morning sky.
Oddly enough, on the same day that Venus goes into direct motion,
so does Pluto. Closer to
us, and barely visible to the naked eye in Aquarius,
Uranus passes through opposition to the Sun, when it is up all
night and crosses the meridian at
local midnight, on Sunday the 9th.
Sandwiched in the western sky between Bootes and Hercules,
look in early evening for the lovely semi-circle of stars that
makes Corona Borealis, the Northern
Crown. Then if you have a good southern horizon, see if you can
find its counterpart down below and a bit to the left of Sagittarius, Corona Australis, the Southern Crown, which lies within
the southern Milky Way, the two
at least in some myths honoring Ariadne and Sagittarius himself.
And now, in response to Skylights' two-week period, here are two
Stars of the Week.