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. Mars (near the lower left corner), as it appeared to the left (southeast) of the Beehive Cluster in Cancer the morning of October 3, 2011. Gemini's Pollux and Castor are at right center, Pollux on top. To see how fast Mars moves, compare its position with where it was on September 12.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, November 4, 2011.

Daylight Savings Time ends this year on Sunday, November 6. Times given below are Standard, one hour behind Daylight.

Our Moon spends most all of this week in its waxing gibbous phase until it hits full on Thursday, November 10, during the day with the Moon out of sight for North Americans. The night of Wednesday the 9th, the Moon will therefore rise just a bit short of full, while the following evening, it will be just past it and technically in the waning gibbous, though it will be impossible to tell the difference. The waxing gibbous will make a nice pass by Jupiter this week, appearing to the northwest of the planet the evening of Tuesday the 8th, then, while flipping to the other side, to the northeast of it the night of Wednesday the 9th. At the same time, on Tuesday the 8th, the Moon will be going through its apogee, where it is farthest from Earth, the effect again not noticeable to the eye. Earlier in the week, the night of Sunday the 6th, the Moon glides six degrees north of Uranus.

The planetary sky remains dominated by Jupiter and Mars. The giant of the Solar System, rising just before sunset, is now well up in the east by the end of twilight, while reddish Mars rises around midnight about an hour after Jupiter crosses the meridian to the south. Mars, approaching Regulus in Leo for some time now, provides a special sight by making a close pass just 1.4 degrees to the north of the star the night of Wednesday the 9th (take a look the morning of Thursday the 10th). Wait long enough (or get up early enough) and you might catch Saturn rising near fainter Spica just before 5 AM in advance of dawn.

Jupiter will not rule the skies for long, not with Venus separating more from the Sun. The planet is still a rather difficult find in southwestern evening twilight, but wait 'till you see it in December. The planet is in conjunction with (a few degrees north of) Antares of Scorpius on Wednesday the 9th, while Mercury (below Venus and near impossible to see) gets the same treatment just a few hours later.

This week is prime time for the two branches (North and South) of the Taurid meteor shower. Related to short-period and faint Comet Encke, the two meteor streams (which appear to emanate from Taurus) peak in early November, each providing a few meteors per hour, most of which will be lost to Moonlight.

To the southeast of Jupiter, find the ragged circle that makes the head of Cetus, the Whale or Sea Monster. The rest of the constellation spreads out to the southwest beneath Pisces (the Zodiacal Fishes), the Whale's tail marked by bright Deneb Kaitos, which is pointed downward to by the eastern side of the Great Square of Pegasus.
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