An Eye-Popping Pairing
The moon and Venus get it on Saturday night
The sun sets around 8:20 this week, revealing a trove of treasures in the west, with Mercury beginning a four-week apparition, Venus climbing higher above the horizon, Saturn overhead and the waxing moon passing them all this week.
Thursday, the new moon has pulled away from the setting sun just enough to appear as an ever-so-thin crescent about 20 degrees above the north-northwest horizon at dusk. If you’re lucky, you may spot the distinct glare of Mercury midway between the moon and the horizon.
The next evening the waxing moon shines higher at sunset. Mercury shines about 10 degrees below the convex curve of the moon. Equidistant from the opposite side of the moon, Venus shines like a Kleig light off in the distance.
You won’t want to miss Saturday night’s eye-popping pairing. Sunset finds the moon almost due west, its lower leg little more than one degree above Venus. The two pirouette counter-clockwise, setting in the northwest by midnight.
The witching hour finds Saturn high in the west between Leo and Cancer. Ten degrees to its left, marking the lion’s heart, blue-white Regulus shines nearly as bright as golden Saturn.
The moon climbs higher in the sky and sets about a half-hour later night by night. By Monday, it is high in the east at sunset and 10 degrees to Saturn’s right. Tuesday night, the first-quarter moon is less than three degrees to Saturn’s left.
All the while, Jupiter arcs through the south, rising in the southeast at dusk and setting in the northwest at dawn.
Finally, around 4am, the last of the five naked-eye planets appears as Mars rises in the east.
Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2007 Pacific Publishers. Reprinted by permission from the Tidelog graphic almanac. Bound copies of the annual Tidelog for Chesapeake Bay are $14.95 ppd. from Pacific Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924. Phone 415-868-2909. Weather affects tides. This information is believed to be reliable but no guarantee of accuracy is made by Bay Weekly or Pacific Publishers. The actual layout of Tidelog differs from that used in Bay Weekly. Tidelog graphics are repositioned to reflect Bay Weekly’s distribution cycle.Tides are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are positioned to coincide with high and low tides of Tidelog.