Photo of the Week.Third quarter in morning's light.
Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, November 21,
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
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
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.