Following the Sinking Moon
The thin crescent visits the stars and more
The waning moon drifts through pre-dawn skies this week before Wednesday’s new phase.
Friday’s crescent moon rises around 1:30am in the constellation Cancer, and as dawn approaches, both are midway above the eastern horizon. The crab’s outline is dim, but a couple degrees below the moon is a distinct albeit blurry light. Train a pair of binoculars or a small telescope on this light, and into focus come many of the hundreds of stars making up the Beehive Cluster.
The moon rises around 2:30am Saturday, and trailing behind it are a triumvirate of bright lights. The morning star Venus shines brightest of all, not 10 degrees below the moon. Pale Saturn shines a distant second, and between the two planets shines bluish-white Regulus, the heart of Leo the lion.
By Sunday, the thin crescent moon rises after 3:30, and now it forms a tight knot with Venus, Saturn and Regulus. The moon hovers midway between all three, with Venus not five degrees to the west, Saturn less than three degrees to the east and Regulus a couple degrees above.
Early Monday morning reveals Venus, Saturn and Regulus in the same positions, but the sliver of moon remaining doesn’t rise now until close to 5am, with the sun fast on its heels.
While Venus and Saturn rule the eastern sky before daybreak, Jupiter still holds sway in the west at sunset, around 6:45 this week. As the sky darkens, Jupiter blazes into view for a few hours low in the southwest yet brighter than any other object. Dimmer Antares shines halfway between Jupiter and the horizon. Before midnight, Mars rises in the northeast and is high overhead come sunrise, after 7:05 this week.
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.