Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, October 11, 2013.
The phases of the Moon have become temporarily linked to Skylights'
schedule. We begin the week on Friday, October 4, with the Moon in
its near perfect first quarter in between
the classical figures of Sagittarius and Capricornus. During the rest of the week the Moon both
climbs northward and fattens through its waxing gibbous phase, finally reaching full the night of Friday the 18th about the
time of Moonrise in North America, the "Hunter's Moon" blotting out
the stars of Pisces. That night
the Moon will pass through the outer part of the penumbral shadow
of the Earth and be barely eclipsed. Don't bother looking.
Nowhere on the Moon is sunlight completely shut off, and the effect
is only marginally visible.
What IS visible are a pair of nifty pairings between stars and
planets. Look the morning of Monday the 14th for Mars, which
rises in Leo just before 3 AM
Daylight time only a degree north of the star Regulus. The two will make a fine
color contrast, the redness (really more orange) of Mars enhanced
by the whiteness of the star. Then look in western evening
twilight for eminently visible Venus, which does not set until half an hour after the sky
becomes fully dark. The evening of Wednesday the 16th, the Moon
will make a close pass to Antares
of Scorpius, with the star a mere
1.5 degrees below the planet. Now it is the redness of the star
that stands out (the very name "Antares" meaning "like Mars"). In
between it's hard to miss Jupiter, which rises around midnight Daylight Time
ensconced within Gemini
southwest of Castor and Pollux and then dominates the sky.
In minor news, the Moon passes six degrees north of Neptune the night of Monday the 14th, then about half that
angle north of Uranus three days later.
If you wait up for the rising of Jupiter, look for the Great Square of Pegasus high near the meridian. The Circlet of Pisces
will be below it, but will be gradually wiped out by the
brightening Moon. As dawn approaches, Orion dominates the stellar scene with Sirius down and to the left. In the
early evening find Cygnus the Swan
nearly overhead with the great supergiant Deneb marking the Swan's tail. Then
look early to the south for the upside down Little Milk Dipper of Sagittarius. Below it, just
above the horizon, is the graceful curve of stars that make Corona Australis, the Southern Crown.