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!

Autumn sky

Photo of the Week.Autumn sky.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, October 17, 2014.

Coming off third quarter last Wednesday, October 15, the Moon fades during most of the first week of our fortnight in the waning crescent phase, passing new Moon on Thursday, October 23, when it will cross in front of the Sun to produce a partial solar eclipse visible throughout nearly all of North America. (The dark part of the lunar shadow completely misses Earth, so there is no total eclipse anywhere). The western part of the continent will see the whole event beginning in the afternoon, while those in the east will see it in and around sunset. The times depend strongly on location: check local sources. Be sure to use proper eye protection, as the Sun in any stage of partial eclipse is much too bright to look at directly. Use a professionally made filter only. A safe way to view the eclipse is by projection, in which sunlight falls through a pinhole in a piece of cardboard onto a piece of paper or even the sidewalk. At maximum about half the Sun will be covered. The waxing crescent will become barely visible in western twilight the evening of Friday the 24th as the Moon heads toward first quarter on Friday the 30th in late evening in North America, allowing the near- perfect phase to be seen. The Moon passes apogee , where it is farthest from Earth, on Friday the 17th.

On the morning of Saturday the 18th, the waning crescent will shine just below Jupiter with the star Regulus to the left. The following morning sees Jupiter below the star. After the Moon flips to the other side of the sky, the waxing crescent will make a nice pairing with Mars (the planet to the left) the evening of Monday the 27th, while the following evening it will have moved to a position above and a bit to the left of the red planet.

Jupiter, rising in eastern Leo half an hour past local midnight (1 AM Daylight) at the beginning of our two-week period, shortly before local midnight by the end of it, dominates the planetary sky. But Mars still glows redly in southwestern evening skies, setting around 9 PM Daylight. Between the classical figures of Scorpius and Sagittarius, Mars' westerly motion toward the latter can easily be followed. In the second week of the fortnight, Mercury makes a nice appearance in eastern morning twilight, the planet passing greatest western elongation on November 1. Venus, second from the Sun, goes through superior conjunction with the Sun on Saturday the 25th. While becoming an evening planet, it will not be readily visible until early next year.

Watch for the Orionid meteor shower, which peaks the mornings of October 21 and 22. The leavings of Comet Halley, the shower (which appears to come from the direction of Orion) produces 20 or so meteors per hour.

The summer stars slip off to the west to be replaced by those of autumn. To the east and a bit north of the Little Milk Dipper of Sagittarius is faint Capricornus, which looks like an old- fashioned upside-down cocked hat. The two make a triangle with Aquila (the Eagle) and the star Altair above them. Altair is quickly recognizable for its two flanking stars, Alshain (to the southwest) and Tarazed. Well to the east, Fomalhaut, in Piscis Austrinus (the Southern Fish), begins to sail across far southern skies as seen from the temperate north.

Valid HTML 4.0!