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. Evening, hope for clearing.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, September 25, 2009.

We begin the week, the night of Friday, September 25, with the Moon right at its first quarter, and at about midnight too in North America, allowing you to see the near-perfect quarter on the meridian to the south in its full glory. With the Sun just past the Autumnal Equinox in Virgo, the quarter, 90 degrees to the east of the Sun, will shine low to the south among the stars of Sagittarius just to the east of the Winter Solstice. The Moon then spends the rest of the week in its waxing gibbous phase as it heads towards full the night of Saturday, October 3.

Watch then as the Moon takes on Jupiter. It will appear to the west of the giant planet the night of Monday the 28th, then will make a fine appearance just to the northeast of it the following evening. Half a day later, the Moon invisibly passes Neptune, which lies just to the east of the King of the planetary system. The night of Sunday the 27th, the Moon passes apogee, where it is farthest from the Earth in its somewhat elliptical orbit.

For some time now, Jupiter has been eminently visible as an evening planet. As September passes into October, it crosses the meridian to the south around 9:30 PM Daylight Time, then sets around 2:30 AM. In between, half an hour after midnight (Daylight Time), Mars rises, beautifully placed just to the south of Castor and Pollux in Gemini. Note its color relative to white Castor and orangish Pollux. Rising ever later, Venus does not loft herself up above the eastern horizon until about 5 AM. But the advent of twilight is getting later too, so the brilliant planet still rises in a dark sky, beating dawn by half an hour. Moving rapidly to the east against the stars, Venus passes through southern Leo to the southeast of Regulus.

Then its Mercury's turn, the little planet rising just as twilight barely begins to light the sky, as it heads toward greatest western elongation next week. At about the same time, Saturn, which has cleared the Sun and is somewhat fainter than Mercury, makes its morning debut. The two will come into conjunction with each other late next week just 0.3 degrees apart.

The "wet quarter" is upon us, this area of the sky featuring the three watery constellations of the Zodiac. First up is Capricornus, easily found using bright Jupiter, which hovers to the west of the Water Goat's northeast corner made of Delta and Gamma Capricorni. (But wait until the Moon is out of the way.) The rest of it appears like an old- fashioned upside down hat to the west and south. To the northeast of Capricornus look for the "Y" of stars that makes Aquarius's Water Jar and a bit more to the west to locate the Circlet of Pisces, the Fishes. Well south of the Water Jar lies the bright star Fomalhaut, of Pisces Austrinus, the Southern Fish.
Valid HTML 4.0!