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Volume 15, Issue 38 ~ September 20 - September 26, 2007

Look! Up in the Sky!

It’s neither bird nor plane, but the king of the planets is a brilliant sight

The recent spate of clear, cool, dry weather combined with earlier sunsets has provided the perfect backdrop to showcase Jupiter in all its glory. The glowing giant stands out 10 degrees above the south-southwest horizon as dusk descends, 7:05pm and later this week. Over the next hour, Jupiter moves to the west, ablaze above the southwest horizon.

Star light, star bright, the first star you’ll see these nights is Antares, halfway between Jupiter and the horizon. Although a pin-prick of light compared to Jupiter’s mighty glare, Antares shines a distinct red. Notice, too, how the star twinkles, its light distorted during the 100-light-year journey to our eyes.

None of this lasts long. By 9:30, Antares disappears amid the skyline; another half-hour later, Jupiter follows suit. Over the next six weeks, the two appear fixed in place night after night before abruptly disappearing into the glare of the sun.

Mars rises in the northeast 90 minutes after Jupiter sets, but its red light pales in comparison. By 4:30am, Mars is high overhead as brilliant Venus rises in the east. An hour later, the morning star is joined by Saturn.

Fall is in the air, and it’s official at 5:51am Sunday, September 23, when the sun hovers for an instant over the equator, and all over the world the day is divided equally between light and dark. After the autumnal equinox, the sun dips farther south in its daily path through the skies of the northern hemisphere, taking with it almost a minute of daylight each morning and another minute and a half at night.


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.

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