Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

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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. The waning gibbous Moon, just 1.1 day past full, peeks through the trees.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, October 7, 2016.

The next Skylights will appear October 21, 2016.

The Moon brightens in the first part of our session, passing through first quarter the night of Saturday, October 8, around the time of moonset in North America. The waxing gibbous Moon then heads to full phase, when it is opposite the Sun the night of Saturday the 15th with the Moon climbing the eastern sky. The Moon then wanes in the gibbous phase, third quarter not reached until Saturday, October 22. The Moon passes perigee, where and when it is closest to Earth (about 5.5 percent closer than average) on Sunday the 16th, less than a day after full, the combination bringing especially high and low tides at the ocean shores.

The big lunar event is the occultation of the bright star Aldebaran in Taurus (the Moon crossing the star in its easterly motion) the night of Tuesday the 18th/morning of Wednesday the 19th, the exact time depending on location, but generally around midnight. The disappearance of the star will probably take a telescope to see as the leading edge of the gibbous Moon will be so bright. An hour or so later, Aldebaran will pop out the other side. The event is visible south of the line that connects Minneapolis, Denver, and Los Angeles. On the line itself an observer with a telescope can watch the star graze the edge of the Moon, flittering among crater edges.

The Moon will be to the right of Saturn the evening of Saturday the 5th, up and to the left the following night, Antares below. Mars has taken off for the east and Sagittarius. The Moon will pass north of the planet the nights of Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8th. In evening western twilight you'll find Saturn and brilliant Venus. In the morning sky, Mercury lies close to Jupiter in bright twilight. At the end, Uranus is in opposition to the Sun on Saturday the 15th when it is just south of the nearly full Moon and quite invisible.

The Summer Triangle, made of three first magnitude stars and visible most anywhere, is in its full glory, with the bright star Vega in Lyra at the northeast apex, fainter Altair in Aquila at the southern, fainter-yet Deneb in Cygnus at the northwest apex. Far to the south the zodiacal constellations Sagittarius and Capricornus crawl along the horizon.

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