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,
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
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.