Skylights featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day

Scout Report Selection Webivore Selection SpaceCareers Selection

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. Polaris, the bright star toward the bottom, and the faint stars of northern Camelopardalis (the Giraffe), float above the dome of the four-meter telescope on Kitt Peak, the 2.3-meter telescope of the Steward Observatory seen in silhouette against the glorious sky. See full resolution.

Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, November 13, 2009.

Ever have one of those weeks where nothing much seems to happen? With one quite nice exception (see below), here's one now. It can of course be a blessing, as you can then concentrate on other things, such as the serene beauty of the nighttime sky. The Moon starts us off in its morning waning crescent phase, then passes new on Monday the 16th, whereupon it waxes as an evening crescent. The morning of Saturday the 14th finds the Moon just down and to the right of Spica in Virgo. It's a good chance to admire box-like Corvus, the Crow, which will lie well to the right of the star. Your last look at the morning crescent will be on the morning of Sunday the 15th, whereas your first glimpse of the evening crescent will be on the night of Tuesday the 17th. The view gets much better after that with the Moon higher each night, earthlight on the Moon's nighttime side on fine display.

Enjoy Jupiter now, to the south in mid-twilight (and still in northeastern Capricornus), the planet bright enough to be seen in dusk. It's also among the brightest sources of radio radiation in the sky, compliments of a huge magnetosphere that traps particles from the solar wind. Then within an hour of one another, between 10 and 11 PM, Jupiter sets and both Mars and the star Sirius rise, Mars well to the north of the star to the east of Cancer's Beehive cluster. After a goodly wait, Saturn then comes up around 2:30 AM, the rings tightly closed, which dims the planet some. Venus, however, is leaving us. Not rising until after 5:30 AM, in twilight, the planet is getting increasingly difficult to see.

The one big event is the Leonid meteor shower, which takes place in and around the morning of Tuesday the 17th and seems to emanate from the constellation Leo. Peaking every 33 years, the shower was a big hit a decade ago. The leavings of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, the shower is more or less back to its normal small action. There is, however, a possibility of some bursts of activity, so it may be worth a look in a dark sky.

New Moon of course is special, as it allows you to see -- depending on where you live -- a dark sky. With the summer constellations -- Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila and the rest of the gang -- leaving for the western sky, look high to the south to find the Great Square of Pegasus, the main portion of the classic Flying Horse. To the southeast of it, perhaps you can find the small box of stars that makes Equuleus, the Little Horse, also of ancient origins.
Valid HTML 4.0!