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.. Climbing high at evening.

Astronomy news for the TWO WEEKS starting Friday, September 14, 2012.

The next Skylights will appear September 28, 2012.

We begin with the Moon out of the visible sky, as it passes new on Saturday, September 15. Watch for the waxing crescent in western twilight the evening of Tuesday the 18th, when it will be just down and to the left of Saturn (the planet difficult to see). The same day, the Moon passes perigee, where it is closest to the Earth. By the following evening, the growing crescent will have shifted just to the left of Mars. Better perhaps is the sight the evening of Thursday the 20th, when the crescent invades Scorpius with Antares a bit down and to the left of it. First quarter is then finally reached on Saturday the 22nd. The remainder of the week sees the Moon in its waxing gibbous phase, during which it passes several degrees north of Neptune (on Thursday the 27th).

Though visible, Saturn and Mars are pretty much out of it, the ringed planet setting before twilight ends, the red one just half an hour after the sky gets fully dark. The Moon, as seen above, provides the best guide to them. It's far easier to view Jupiter and Venus. Rising ever earlier, the giant planet now comes up in central Taurus shortly before 11 PM (Daylight Time) as our period begins, by around 10 PM as it ends. Venus is then over the horizon by 3:30 or so AM, as it has been for some time now. Abandoning Gemini awhile back, the brilliant planet now glides to the southeast of Cancer's Beehive Cluster as it approaches Regulus in Leo. After admiring Venus, look for Jupiter to cross the meridian to the south in bright morning twilight.

Enjoy it now: Friday the 21st is the last full day of astronomical summer, as the Sun crosses the autumnal equinox in Virgo at 9:49 AM CDT (10:49 EDT, 8:49 MDT, 7:49 PDT) on Saturday the 22nd, when it rises due east, sets due west, and the durations of day and night (including twilight) are more or less equal. It also technically sets at the north pole and rises at the south pole.

With fall at hand, the constellations of the Andromeda myth are coming into view, rising in mid-evening in the east and northeast. First up is dim Cepheus, the most northerly of them, which is followed by the "W" of Cassiopeia, the curves of stars to the south representing Andromeda herself. She is connected to the Great Square of Pegasus, which can be found to the southeast of Deneb and Cygnus and crosses the meridian around midnight.
Valid HTML 4.0!