Photo of the Week.The Sun rises below a trio of striking jet contrails.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, November 11, 2011.
Welcome to Skylights' week of 11/11/11. The numbers don't mean
anything special, but its rather fun to see them written out.
Our week starts with the Moon just past its full phase and in the waning gibbous, which gradually thins and
fades until it reaches third quarter on
Friday, November 18 shortly before the time of Moonset in North America.
Even though the two are of equal angular extent, the third quarter
is only half as bright as the first, as
the third displays more of the dark maria (volcanically flooded basins or other
areas) that make the "man in the Moon" and other fanciful figures.
The evening of Friday the 11th, the fat waning gibbous Moon rises
just below the Pleiades of Taurus, the Moon's brightness
making the cluster
quite difficult to see.
up in the east as the sky darkens, makes an impressive statement,
the planet nearly four times brighter than the brightest star Sirius, which now rises a bit after
10 PM (well after Orion has
launched himself into the eastern heavens) and just before Jupiter
crosses the meridian to the south.
Jupiter then sets at the onset of dawn. On the other side of the
becomes somewhat more visible in western evening dusk, the planet
still setting just before twilight draws to a close. Just below
Venus, Mercury is an
even more difficult sight. Even though the little planet reaches
greatest eastern elongation relative to the Sun on Monday
the 14th, the ecliptic is so
flat against the horizon this time of year that Mercury cannot get
very high after it is dark enough to show.
Back in the east, you might watch for the rising of Saturn, which
now comes up just to the north of Spica (the planet somewhat the
brighter) about 4:30 AM rather well in advance of dawn (and
Jupiter-set). To the west of Saturn, you can more easily admire Mars, which lies
just to the east of Leo's Regulus, the red planet now rising
just about midnight.
Some bits of Solar System debris make news. The morning of
Thursday the 18th you might catch a few Leonid meteors
(a shower that seems to come out of Leo), but the blobs of
meteoroids that can make it a spectacular show are long gone and
little is expected, especially under bright moonlight. But if you
scan the early evening sky south of the center of a line between Vega and Arcturus you might spot the fuzz of
Garradd, which hovers near naked-eye visibility.
Follow the western side of the Great Square of Pegasus downward to first magnitude Fomalhaut. Down and to the right
of Fomalhaut are the prominent stars of southern Grus (the Crane), while down to the
left is the luminary of the
eponymous Phoenix, these stars just
barely grazing the southern horizon for those in the mid-US.