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Photo of the Week. Reflections in blue and white.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, October 7, 2011.

This is the week of the full Moon, the "Hunter's Moon," which takes place almost perfectly in North America the night of Tuesday, October 11, as it rises in mid- evening. It's similar to September's Harvest Moon, in which the eastern evening ecliptic lays rather flat to the horizon, which gives us a lot of early evening near-full Moonlight. Go watch and enjoy. With the Sun not far to the east of the Autumnal Equinox in Virgo, this full Moon will be equally distant to the east of the Vernal Equinox and firmly in central Pisces, whose dim stars it will wipe out. Prior to that lovely event, the Moon starts the week well into its waxing gibbous phase, while after full our companion begins the waning gibbous, moving ever farther to the north.

Many are the visitations. The night of Wednesday the 12th, the Moon will rise almost directly above (to the northwest of) Jupiter. After passing five degrees north of the planet during the following day, the Moon will then rise to the left (to the northeast) of Jupiter the evening of Thursday the 13th. Earlier in the week, respectively on the night of Friday the 7th and during the day on Monday the 10th, the Moon glides six degrees north of Neptune and Uranus, the latter now just a couple degrees east of the Vernal Equinox in Pisces. On Wednesday the 12th, the Moon also goes through apogee, where it is farthest from Earth.

Jupiter and Mars still rule the planetary sky. Jupiter appears first, rising around 7:30 PM Daylight Time in mid-twilight. Ascending ever higher, it crosses the meridian to the south around 2 AM. Half an hour or so earlier, Mars comes up, the red planet now to the southeast of Cancer's Beehive cluster. What of the other planets? For some time now out of sight in the Sun's glare, on Thursday the 13th, Saturn goes through conjunction with the Sun, thereafter becoming a morning object, though still hidden in bright twilight. Venus, which will make a glorious evening sight in the western skies this winter, is still too low to be readily visible, Mercury worse.

The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair is slowly being replaced by the Winter version of Betelgeuse in Orion, Procyon in Canis Minor, and Sirius in Canis Major. Look for the rising of the brightest member, Sirius, which resides to the southeast of Orion, around 1:30 AM.
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