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!

Eclipsed Moon Eclipsed Moon

Photo of the Week. The September 27 lunar eclipse with the Moon partially within the Earth's full shadow. At left is a short exposure showing the bright uneclipsed portion of the Moon; at right is a longer one deeper into the eclipse that reveals the full shadow's reddish glow from sunlight refracted and scattered by the Earth's atmosphere. The shadow's circular outline was an early clue that the Earth is a sphere. Courtesy of Joaquin Vieira.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, October 23, 2015.

The next skylights will appear November 6, 2015. Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday, November 1.

As usual we start with the Moon, which at the opening of the fortnight is in its waxing gibbous phase as it heads toward full Moon the morning of Tuesday, October 27, around the time of Moonset in North America. The evening of Monday the 26th finds it just shy of the phase, while the following evening the Moon will have entered the waning gibbous phase, which terminates at last (third) quarter the morning of Tuesday, November 3, with the Moon high in the sky near the celestial meridian. At the end we get to see a bit of the waning crescent. The night of Thursday the 29th, the Moon will be just to the east of Aldebaran in Taurus. Then the morning of Thursday the 5th look to the pre-dawn east to see the Moon not far below Regulus in Leo and above and to the right of bright Jupiter. The following morning the fat crescent will pass only a couple degrees south of the giant planet. The Moon hits perigee, where it is closest to Earth on its monthly round, on Monday the 26th.

Venus, glorious in the pre-dawn morning sky, goes through its greatest elongation of 46 degrees west of the Sun on Monday the 26th, and through the telescope appears in its half phase, wherein we see half the daylight hemisphere while the other half is in night. At the same time, Jupiter passes just a degree north of the brilliant planet, the two making a marvelous sight. On Tuesday the 3rd it's Mars's turn, the red planet going under a degree north of Venus. They are all up by 4 AM Daylight Time (3 AM Standard) The three planets then spread themselves out, Jupiter rising ever earlier with Mars next, while each morning Venus rises somewhat later. Down at the bottom is little Mercury, which is visible in twilight only during the earlier part of our session, if even that. By the end of the fortnight, Jupiter rises near 2 AM. Back in the evening, Saturn sets around twilight's end and is effectively lost until it reappears in the morning sky as the year draws to a close.

As the stars of summer move out they are replaced by those of autumn. In late evening, look for the Great Square of Pegasus high to the south. Below it is the Circlet of Pisces, which represents the head of the western fish. West and a bit south of the Circlet is another charming asterism, the Y-shaped Water Jar of Aquarius, which sits right on the celestial equator, the rest of the constellation sprawling to the southwest and southeast. Farther down is bright and lonely Fomalhaut in Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish, a true announcer of chillier days to come.

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