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 -- Full List Restored!


Photo of the Week. Jupiter in Aries (October 3, 2011), the triangle of stars to the right (north).

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, October 14, 2011.

A quiet week is in store with no big events, leading us to peaceful contemplation of the stars. We begin with the Moon waning in its gibbous phase as it heads towards third quarter the night of Wednesday, October 19, about or shortly before the time of Moonrise in North America. Rising, it will make a fine sight to the south of Castor and Pollux in Gemini. It thereafter wanes as a thinning crescent as it looks ahead to new late next week. The morning of Thursday, October 20, the just- past-quarter will take a bead on Mars, appearing rather well to the west of the red planet, while on the following morning they will rise with the Moon just a bit to the southwest of Mars, the two in conjunction (the Moon six degrees to the south) during the day on Friday the 21st.

Approaching its opposition to the Sun on Friday the 28th, Jupiter now rises in mid-evening twilight, is fully up by the time the sky gets dark, and crosses the meridian to the south just half an hour past local midnight (1:30 AM Daylight Time), almost exactly as Mars rises in the east, the two near "quadrature" with one another (a right angle apart). The red planet has now moved several degrees to the east of the Beehive cluster in Cancer, these two having been in conjunction with each other last week. Though slowly coming onto the evening scene, Venus, for now elusive, is still setting in mid-twilight, while Saturn, just having gone through opposition with the Sun, does not rise until shortly before sunrise and is quite out of sight. Mercury sets even earlier than Venus.

One thing to anticipate, though, is the Orionid meteor shower (the debris of Halley's Comet), which peaks the night of Friday the 21st and the following morning, though the near-quarter-Moon will shine some of them (typically 20 an hour) away.

The fall constellations are now full upon us. Look in early evening to the east and to the rising of the Great Square of Pegasus, which comes up looking like a large diamond and crosses high to the south around midnight. Pegasus, the Flying Horse, is not the only one of its kind. To the southwest of the Square lies the tiny, faint constellation of Equuleus, the Little Horse, making one wonder what might have been in the minds of the ancients to make such a figure out of it. Then passing nearly overhead, find the "W" of Cassiopeia, the Big Dipper, opposite the celestial Queen, more or less out of sight as it swings beneath the pole. To the northeast rises the bright, first magnitude harbinger of winter, Capella, of Auriga, the Charioteer.
Valid HTML 4.0!