Photo of the Week., taken July 8, 2016. Mars
(halfway to the right), Saturn (up and to the left of center), and
Antares (below Saturn), dominate
this extraordinary configuration in Scorpius. Dschubba
(Delta Sco), an erupting hot star, lies at dead center. It's the
center of the vertical trio that makes the Scorpion's head. The
"Stinger" is at the lower left corner. Compare with the
configuration seen a month earlier on August 26.
Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, October 21,
d The next skylights will appear November 4, 2016.
The Moon fades away during the first week of our fortnight,
beginning at third quarter on Saturday
the 22nd, then slimming away as a waning
crescent until it disappears in morning twilight on Saturday,
October 29, new Moon passed the next day. Two days later, the Moon
passes apogee, where
it is farthest from Earth on its more-or-less elliptical orbit.
Flipping to the other side of the sky, the now-waxing crescent will appear above the star Antares the early evening of
Tuesday, November 1, bright twilight making the sight a difficult
catch. The early evening of Wednesday the 2nd it will be much
easier to see the growing crescent above Saturn, with Venus to the
left. The following evening finds the Moon up and to the left of
the bright planet. First quarter
finally puts an end to the crescent on November 7, just after our
current period ends.
Be sure to look for the "stack" of objects vertical to the horizon
in twilight the evening of Thursday the 27th, which features
Saturn on top, Venus (the brightest of them) in the middle, and
fainter Antares below. The configuration will stick around for a
couple days. By the time the Moon gets into the act, Venus will
have shifted well to the left, as noted above.
Mars, moving eastward against
the stars to the east of the Little Milk Dipper of Sagittarius, heads for Capricornus, reliably setting just
after 10:30 PM Daylight time. At least Jupiter is back, the bright
planet now rising just before dawn. Mercury,
now gone from the sky, passes superior conjunction with the Sun (on the
other side of the Sun) on Thursday the 27th.
The Orionid meteor shower, which comes from
the debris of Halley's comet and emanates from the
constellation Orion, peaks around the mornings of October
20-21, but is active for a few days on either side of these dates.
Unfortunately, moonlight gets in the way. We get hit again by the
stuff in early May.
Look to the far northwest to see the falling stars of the Big Dipper. For most of us it's
near-circumpolar. The famed
configuration is replaced by the prominent "W" of Cassiopeia, the Queen of the Andromeda myth. To the west is
the dim pentagon that makes Cassiopeia's husband, Cepheus, the King.