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.Reddish Mars (center) approaches Regulus (at the end of the Sickle of Leo) the morning of November 2, 2011. See a labelled version and full resolution.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, November 18, 2011.

Skylights will next appear December 2, 1011.

Our fortnight is bracketed by the quarter Moons, beginning with the third quarter on Friday, November 18 (which takes place shortly before Moonset in North America) and finishing with first quarter the morning of Friday, December 2, with the Moon out of sight. In the middle, the Moon passes new on the night of Thursday the 24th. Thus during the first week of our period the Moon thins in its morning-view waning crescent phase, while in the second week it waxes as an evening crescent. Your first reasonable view of the waxing crescent will be on the twilight evening of Saturday the 26th.

The morning of Saturday the 19th, watch the Moon pass eight degrees south of Mars. Next, on the morning of Tuesday the 22nd, find the Moon to the southwest of Saturn, then the following morning to the southeast of the planet. A more striking event is reserved for the evening of Saturday the 26th during twilight, when the slim crescent Moon will lie just to the right of Venus (with Mercury down and to the right of the pair and close to the horizon). The following night, the somewhat fatter crescent will appear well up and to the left of the brightening planet. In lesser news, as December begins, the Moon will glide several degrees north of Neptune. Earlier, a day and a half before it goes through its new phase, the Moon passes perigee, when it will be closest to Earth. This new Moon also aligns with the Sun, eclipsing it, but the event is of no interest since it is both partial and visible only from the Antarctic and a few points north.

Jupiter still rules the evening skies, the planet well up in the east as the sky darkens, crossing the meridian to the south between 9 and 10 PM (depending on where in our period we are), then setting well before dawn. The giant of the planetary system will, however, be rivalled by the growing presence of Venus, which toward the end of November crosses a divide by setting after the end of twilight. Look for its brilliant light in the southwest before the sky darkens, guided (as noted above) by the Moon the evening of Friday the 26th. Mars, moving rapidly eastward south of the main figure of Leo (and to the southeast of Regulus), is now rising shortly before midnight, Next is Saturn. Replacing Jupiter in the sky, the ringed planet is now up by 4 AM to the north of Virgo's luminary, Spica.

In early evening, the Great Square of Pegasus rides high in the south with the star streams of Andromeda coming off its northeastern corner. Far to the south of it sits the lonely star Fomalhaut, the Fish's Mouth, which is mythologically linked to Aquarius. Look for his "Y"- shaped Water Jar to the southwest of the Great Square.
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