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!


Photo of the Week.. Fair clouds stud a blue sky.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, November 2, 2012.

The next Skylights will appear on Friday, November 16. With Daylight Savings Time ending on Sunday the 4th, all times below are Standard.

We start our fortnight with the Moon in its waning gibbous phase, which is over when the Moon hits third quarter the evening of Tuesday, November 6, shortly before Moonrise in North America. It then continues as a waning crescent before reaching new on Tuesday the 13th, when it will totally eclipse the Sun as seen from Australia and a path through the south Pacific, after which it transitions to evening's waxing crescent.

The night of Friday the 2nd, the Moon will rise with Jupiter rather well to the west of it. Then look the morning of Sunday the 11th to see the waning crescent making a nice pass to the right of Venus, the two forming a triangle with the star Spica below it. The following morning, the very thin crescent will appear to the right of Saturn, which is beginning to make the scene. Then the early evenings of Thursday the 15th and Friday the 16th, the waxing Moon will bracket Mars, on Thursday appearing a bit down and to the right of the planet, while on Friday falling up and to the left of it. On Wednesday the 14th, the Moon will pass perigee, when it will be closest to Earth, the combination with a nearly new Moon making for especially high and low tides at the coasts.

Mars still sets half an hour past the end of formal twilight and is obviously hard to see. Turn your eyes then to the east to watch Jupiter rising in central Taurus just before evening's final light is gone. Early on dominating the eastern sky, the giant planet crosses the meridian high to the south one to two hours after midnight. Look next for the rising of brilliant Venus shortly before or near 4 AM, the planet well up by the time the sky lightens. By the end of our period, Saturn is rising at the start of dawn, while Neptune ends its westerly retrograde motion on Sunday the 11th. If lucky, you might catch a meteor or two from the Taurid meteoroid streams.

Look to the south about halfway up into the early evening sky to see two prominent asterisms, the roundish Circlet of Pisces and, to the west of it, the "Y"-shaped Water Jar of Aquarius, whose center lies practically on the celestial equator.
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