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A Thin Sliver of Light

The crescent moon peeks from behind the waning sun’s glare

The waning crescent moon makes a brief appearance low in the southeast early Friday morning in the half-hour leading to sunrise, at 7:37. A few degrees higher shines the unmistakable light of Venus, just returned to view after slipping from evening to pre-dawn skies. Ten degrees higher still shines the blue-white star Spica, and above that is Saturn, as bright as any star.

Saturday the new moon slips between earth and sun, disappearing from view amid the full glare of the sun. Sunday, as the sun sets at 4:59 (Standard Time), an ever-so-thin nascent crescent moon emerges from the sun’s glare low in the southwest. Provided you can spot this moon, look for Mars next to the crescent’s upper tip and the red-hued star Antares beside its lower tip.

Monday evening, the waxing crescent appears a dozen degrees above the horizon at sunset and remains visible for almost 90 minutes before dipping beneath the horizon.

With the moon absent from our skies for most of the night, you may witness an occasional light streaking across the sky, one of the Taurid meteors, perhaps the weakest of the annual meteor showers. Appearing to emanate from the namesake constellation Taurus, this is actually two meteor showers, the South Taurids, which peak on the 4th, and the North Taurids, which peak on the 11th. While neither is very prolific, they generate a combined show that spans the first half of November and sometimes delivers up to 10 meteors an hour. While modest in number, the meteors are slow-movers, leaving long-lasting trails, and every now and then the Taurids produce an errant fireball.

This weekend marks the end of Daylight Savings Time, so that either last thing Saturday night or first thing Sunday morning, you need to set your clocks back one hour.