Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

Scout Report Selection Webivore Selection SpaceCareers Selection

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


Photo of the Week.. Darkened sunset.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, September 2, 2005.

We pass through new Moon this week, the skies fully dark again, at least as long as you live out of town. New phase, with the Moon more or less between us and the Sun, takes place on Saturday, September 3. By the night of Sunday the 4th, the Moon will be barely visible as a slim crescent in bright western evening twilight.

The real action takes place a couple days later. Having just passed their September 2 conjunction, Venus and Jupiter, both brilliantly obvious in the west during evening twilight, are pulling apart, Jupiter dropping down some, Venus shifting a bit higher (if observed at the same twilight time) and to the south. The last time they were this close was in the morning hours of early November, 2004. The night of Tuesday the 6th will witness a great gathering of the waxing crescent, the two planets, and the star Spica in Virgo. Look for the Moon shining below the planetary pair, while the star will be directly below Venus. The Moon will actually occult both Venus and Spica, but not for anyone in the Americas. As the Moon pulls away to the east, the following night (Wednesday the 7th) will find it, Venus, and Jupiter all in a fine row. The sight will be well worth an effort to find a decent horizon to allow full appreciation.

During the remainder of the week, the crescent waxes toward the deep south and first quarter, that phase however not reached until Sunday the 11th.

The bookends of the Solar System are more subtle and pretty much out of sight. Mercury passes north of Leo's Regulus in bright twilight the morning of Sunday the 4th, while Pluto (if we still wish to call it a planet, since it is now beaten in size by another Kuiper Belt object, your scribe's opinion that once a planet, always a planet) ceases retrograde motion on Friday the 2nd. In between, Saturn is now rising about 3:30 AM Daylight Time, well in advance of twilight, the planet now in Cancer near the Beehive star cluster. Much brighter is Mars, which is now up in the east by 10:30 PM DST.

So many constellations come in pairs of some sort. Witness Ursa Major (the Greater Bear), Ursa Minor (the Smaller Bear); Canis Major (the Larger Dog), Canis Minor (the Smaller Dog); Corona Borealis (the Northern Crown), Corona Australis (the Southern Crown); and several more if you count modern and defunct (no- longer-recognized) constellations: Hydra (the Water Serpent), Hydrus (the Water Snake); Musca Borealis (the expired Northern Fly), Musca Australis (the Southern Fly, now known just as Musca). In late summer, however, enjoy some single figures, especially Lyra (the Lyre), which with Vega strums nearly overhead in early-evening North America.
Valid HTML 4.0!