Photo of the Week.. Trees of late autumn raise their
bare branches in homage to the deep blue sky.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, November 1, 2002.
A slim crescent Moon wanes toward new the early part of the week,
its nighttime side awash with earthlight. Watch for it rising
above the eastern horizon in the morning hours just before
twilight. The morning of Saturday, November 2, the thin crescent
will make a particular attractive configuration as it lies above
reddish Mars, with
Porrima (Gamma Virginis)
practically between the two. By the next morning, Sunday, November
3, the Moon will be well below the two and quite difficult to find.
New Moon then takes place on Monday the 4th. By the night of
Tuesday the 5th, the thin waxing crescent will be just barely
visible in bright evening twilight, and by the next night it will
be obvious deep in the southwest in early twilight. Less than a
day before the new phase, the Moon will pass through its perigee
point, once again bringing especially high tides to the
Two weeks ago, Neptune
, in Capricornus, ceased
retrograde and began moving easterly against the stars. Now it
's turn. Though actually visible to the naked eye, Uranus was
discovered only in relatively modern times, by William
Herschel in 1781. Now also within the confines of eastern
Capricornus (just above Delta
Capricorni), this seventh planet from the Sun becomes
stationary (ceasing retrograde) on Monday the 4th, and then heads
easterly toward Aquarius, which it
will enter about the time the Sun crosses the winter solstice next December.
make a much bigger splash. The ringed planet is now making
serious inroads into the evening sky, rising shortly before 8 PM
Standard Time. Jupiter, still moving easterly against the starry
background between the classic figures of Cancer and Leo,
launches itself above the eastern horizon around 11:30 PM.
November is the month of the southern fish, Piscis Austrinus, which (as seen from the mid-northern
hemisphere) swims just above the southern horizon in early evening,
its bright star Fomalhaut 30
degrees south of the celestial equator. Above it lies Aquarius, the Water Bearer, who is
commonly depicted as pouring water into the Fish's mouth, and above
that Pegasus, the right-hand
side of the Great Square
pointing directly south to the bright star. Below Fomalhaut find
a pair of bright stars that appear to represent the feet of a long-
necked bird, and help form the modern constellation Grus, the Crane. Though entirely out
of sight for mid-northern viewers, between Grus the south celestial
pole lies yet another bird, Tucana, the Toucan. Birds seemed to
have fascinated the makers of the constellations. From the
northern hemisphere you can still easily admire both Cygnus (the Swan) and Aquila (the Eagle), now slowly
escaping to the west.