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


Photo of the Week. From the deep south comes Pavo (the Peacock), featuring the luminary Alpha star (itself "Peacock") and the globular cluster NGC 6752, 15,000 light years away.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, September 24, 2010.

As busy as last week was, this one is quiet, the sky not much caring about doing things week by week. Yet there is a charm to it, as we embrace Moon-phases of the moment. Full Moon took place last Thursday morning (September 23), while the last quarter is hit on the evening of Thursday the 30th (about the time of, or shortly before, Moonrise in North America), leaving practically the entire week for the waning gibbous, the day-night line on the Moon (the "terminator") sweeping from right to left. A telescopic view of this dividing line, where the Sun is setting on the Moon and shadows are long, reveals a spectacular number of craters .

The evening sky features a rather distant conjunction between brilliant Venus and not-so-bright Mars on Tuesday the 28th, Venus passing six degrees south of the red planet, which hovers at the edge of second magnitude and will be near-impossible to see in twilight, both planets now setting before the sky is fully dark. Saturn, long lost to us, makes a bit of a comeback by invisibly passing conjunction with the Sun the night of Thursday the 30th, just three hours before the Moon passes third quarter.

The later planetary evening sky thus belongs now to bright Jupiter, which, having passed opposition to the Sun last Thursday (the 23rd), is already up in the east (still in western Pisces) by the time the sky darkens. After crossing the meridian to the south around 12:30 AM Daylight Time, the giant planet can be seen way in the west by the time of morning's first light. Look then also for little Mercury, which can be seen low in the east just after the commencement of dawn.

The morning hours also bring us the stars that will eventually grace winter skies, allowing us to admire them with some warmth left in the air. As the morning sky brightens, find Sirius in the southeast, with Orion up and to the right. In the evening, though, the summer's stars are still with us, Sagittarius low in the south. If you live far enough to the south and have a clear southern horizon, look for the gentle curve of stars below the Archer that makes Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. From the deep south, you might even spot the bright luminary of Pavo the Peacock sticking up just a bit over the horizon down the to the left.
Valid HTML 4.0!