Photo of the Week. While dark storm clouds may hide the
blue sky, they have a beauty and drama all their own.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, November 10, 2006.
The Moon, going through its
phases every 29.5 days, passes its third
quarter on Sunday, November 12th, during the day and about the
time of Moonset. The pair of previous days have the Moon as a
waning gibbous, whereas the rest of the week sees it as a waning crescent. In the middle of
the week (Wednesday the 15th), the crescent coincides with apogee,
at which time the Moon will be a bit over five percent farther from
Earth than average.
Earlier in the week, the Moon will make a very nice passage past
Saturn and through Leo. The
ringed planet, in "quadrature" with the Sun (90 degrees to the west
of it), now rises in late evening, around 11:30 PM. On the
night of Saturday the 11th (the morning
of Sunday the 12th), the quarter will, as it climbs the eastern sky,
be above (to the west of) Saturn (which in turn is above, to the
west of, Regulus). The following night (and morning), the Moon will have
passed the planet, and will appear just below (or east of) Regulus. The morning of Tuesday the
14th, the lunar crescent passes south of the Lion's main body.
The big event, and it will not be much for North America, is the Leonid meteor
shower, which emanates from the direction of Leo, and which
will build during the week to a peak very early next week. The
leavings of Comet
Tempel-Tuttle, the meteors can produce powerful storms every 33
years just after the comet passes the Earth. While we long since
passed the big peak, some 100 meteors per hour are still expected,
though mainly as seen from Europe and Africa. Here, we may see a
Among the lesser of the constellations of the Perseus myth, both in story and in brightness, is Cepheus (the King, Cassiopeia's husband). Not in
interest, however. Cepheus not only contains the prototype of the
Cepheid variables, Delta Cephei,
it has a prominent star with a planet (Errai, Gamma Cep), two of the largest
stars known (Mu and VV Cep), and is filled with distant
hot blue stars that are dimmed by the interstellar dust of the Milky Way.