The moon this week keeps Venus, Saturn in line
Thursday’s new moon emerges from behind the sun Friday as a paper-thin crescent low in the northwest, visible at best for a few minutes after sunset at 8:35. Saturday evening, the moon appears a little higher above the horizon, near Gemini’s twins Pollux and Castor, and sets about 45 minutes later than the night before. Come sunset Sunday, the waxing crescent hangs 10 degrees above due west, forming a line with brilliant Venus less than 10 degrees behind and Saturn following the evening star by another 10 degrees.
Monday night the moon appears high in the east at sunset, flanked by Venus, now five degrees ahead of the moon, and Saturn, less than five degrees behind. Come Tuesday, the three are aligned again, now with the moon highest in the sky followed by Saturn 10 degrees to the southeast and Venus another 10 degrees beyond. Regulus, the heart of Leo the lion, is the third bright light, albeit dimmer than either planet, less than one-half degree from the upper tip of Tuesday’s crescent moon.
While the waxing moon moves on, Venus and Saturn hold fast above the west horizon, drawing closer together until a spectacular conjunction at month’s end. Roughly 10 degrees separate the two this week, but with Saturn sinking fast toward Venus, that distance shrinks by half over the next week.
Jupiter appears in the southeast at sunset and arcs westward through the night, setting in the southwest around 5am. Not 10 degrees below Jupiter shines the red giant Antares, the heart of Scorpius. This rival of Mars shouldn’t prove too confusing in your sky-watching, however, as the real red planet rises in the east well after 2am
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.