Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, September 7, 2012.
We watch the Moon fade this week, first with just a touch of the waning gibbous phase. Then, after passing third quarter on the morning of Saturday,
September 8, with the Moon high in the sky, it goes into the waning crescent as it heads towards new
next week. This last quarter will also present us with a marvelous
sight, as it will be passing just south of bright Jupiter, the meeting well worth getting up to see. If you
do, then you can also admire Orion below the pair. By the following morning, the
Moon will have moved well to the east of the giant planet. That
event is followed by the Moon's visit with Venus the morning of Wednesday the 12th, with the crescent
seen just to the right of the brilliant second planet from the Sun.
Then look the following morning to see the thinning crescent dive
directly below Venus. By the morning of Friday the 14th, the Moon
will be close enough to new that it will hover just above the
twilight horizon. Note the star Regulus up and to the left of it.
The morning of Sunday the 9th, the Moon will pass in front of Ceres, the
largest of the asteroids.
The early evening sky show is pretty much over. Saturn sets just
about as twilight ends, Mars
half an hour later. But we don't have long to wait before Jupiter
ascends the sky just before 11:30 PM Daylight Time in central Taurus, with Aldebaran and the Hyades to the southwest of it.
Climbing the eastern sky, Jupiter transits the meridian to the south near sunrise
as it fades away into the brightening sky. Venus then makes
its unmistakable mark by rising around 3 AM well in advance of dawn
to the south and a bit east of Gemini's Castor and Pollux. To round things off,
Mercury passes superior conjunction with the Sun (to the far
side of it) on Monday the 10th.
With the Moon out of the way, the mid-evening summer sky is on full
display. By 9 PM or so, Vega in Lyra is nearly overhead, with
somewhat less bright Deneb in Cygnus to the east of it. Way down to
the south, you can admire the Little
Milk Dipper of Sagittarius. To
the right of it is Scorpius, while
up and to the left we see a bit of a harbinger of fall, dim Capricornus, the improbable Water
Goat. Up in the northwest, the puma-bd-p.html">Big Dipper
descends the sky only to be replaced in the northeast by the rising
"W" of Cassiopeia.