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!

Mars and Saturn

Photo of the Week.. From top to bottom: Saturn, Mars, and Antares, all in a fine row on August 24, 2016. See full resolution. Compare with the positions on June 5 and July 8, when Mars was far to the west.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, November 18, 2016.

The next skylights will appear December 2, 2016.

The Moon starts off in the early waning gibbous phase, as it heads toward last quarter the night of Sunday, November 20, the perfect phase actually achieved in the early morning of Monday the 21st a few hours after moonrise in North America. It will then make a pretty sight southeast of Regulus in Leo. The waning crescent thereafter plows through Virgo, coming close to Porrima (Gamma Virginis) on the morning of Tuesday the 24th, with bright Jupiter below them. By the morning of Friday the 25th, Porrima, Jupiter, the Moon, and Spica will fall along a ragged line pointing down toward the horizon. The moon finally passes new moon on Tuesday the 29th. Your last view of the ultrathin crescent will be in bright eastern twilight the morning of Monday the 28th. The crescent passes apogee, where it is farthest from the Earth, on Sunday the 27th.

The Moon then flips to the other side of the sky, the thin waxing crescent first visible in twilight the evening of Wednesday the 30th. Look for Venus (you don't really have to look for it) up and to the left. The two will make an especially fine pair the morning of Saturday, December 3. Up and to the left of them both, find Mars.

As to the planets, the sky gives us brilliant Venus, which now sets well after the end of twilight, and much fainter Mars, which sets at its reliable 9:30 PM as it climbs northward through Capricornus. Saturn is lost to bright western twilight. In the morning, Jupiter is up by 2:30 AM.

Look to the west for orange Arcturus, the brightest star of the northern hemisphere. Northeast of it is the beautifully curved set of stars called Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. Its counterpart in the south, Corona Australis, is lost to twilight. Below the Northern Crown is a dim "X-shaped figure that represents the head of Serpens, the Serpent that wraps itself around Ophiuchus.
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