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!

Waxing Moon

Photo of the Week.Third quarter in morning's light.

Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, November 21, 2014.

The next Skylights will appear Friday, December 5.

Another fortnight (necessitated by a move, Thanksgiving -- wishes for a happy one to all -- and other things) pretty much spans the waxing half of the lunar phase cycle. New Moon takes place on Saturday, November 22, and is followed by the waxing crescent (first visible in western twilight the evening of Sunday the 23rd), first quarter on Saturday the 29th, then the growing gibbous, which terminates at full Moon on Saturday. December 6. The evening of Tuesday the 25th, the crescent will appear to the right of Mars, while the following evening it will be up and to the left of the red planet. For planetary passages, that is about it except for Neptune on Saturday the 29th and Uranus on Monday the 1st, the planet occulted as seen from western Canada and eastern Alaska. On Thursday the 4th, the lunar disk will appear to the west of Aldebaran and the Hyades of Taurus and to the south of the Pleiades. More significantly, the Moon goes through perigee, where it is closest to the Earth, on Thursday the 27th.

Dominating the sky, Jupiter rises ever earlier in Leo a bit to the west of Regulus just after 10:30 PM at the beginning of our session, 9:30 at the end of it. Mars, falling only slowly behind the Earth, maintains its constancy, setting at 8 PM as it glides to the east of Sagittarius's Little Milk Dipper approaching Capricornus. The other three ancient planets, those known since ancient times, are hidden by the glare of twilight.

It's hard to miss the lowering of the Sun as it nears its most southerly point of the sky at the Winter Solstice in Sagittarius on December 21 with only a couple degrees left to go. Correspondingly, the temperate northern hemisphere receives less heat as a beam of Sunlight covers more ground and the air chills, while the southern hemisphere heats up.

In mid-evening, the star streams of Perseus, the hero of the Andromeda myth, climb high in the northeastern sky. The famed figure is followed by another of the great ancient constellations, Auriga, the Charioteer, instantly recognizable by Capella, the sixth brightest star in the sky, third brightest of the northern hemisphere, and the most northerly of first magnitude (actually magnitude zero), just barely beating Deneb in summer's Cygnus for the honor.

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