A Pre-Dawn Transit
Venus and Saturn dance with hot Regulus in the early morn
The nascent crescent moon provides a test of your eyes Saturday above the west-southwest horizon between 6:30 and 7:30. Even more fleeting is Mercury, which you may see as a bright, steady light glimmering at the skyline.
The waxing moon appears 10 degrees higher each night at sunset and sets about one-half hour later. Sunday, the moon hovers not 20 degrees below Jupiter with red Antares smack between the two. The following evening, the three bodies are five degrees apart from one another, forming a loose triangle.
As the moon climbs higher, Jupiter creeps ever-closer to the horizon and the sun’s blinding glare, and within a few weeks it will be gone. In the meantime, though, the king of the planets shines majestically.
Shortly after Jupiter sets at one point of the sky, Mars rises at the opposite. While not as commanding as Jupiter, the red planet stands out against the surrounding stars. By 6 AM it is directly overhead.
Venus and Saturn crest the eastern horizon a few hours before dawn, with Regulus a little higher. These two planets have been drawing closer the past week, and they come their nearest before dawn Sunday, when less than three degrees separates them. With Regulus no farther from either planet, the three lights form a tight triangle. Watch from night to night as the angles and shape subtly change while Saturn slowly pulls ahead and higher.
As the lion Leo’s heart, Regulus burns hot. While it is only the 21st brightest star, it is the hottest, burning at a temperature of 45,000 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, our sun burns at less than 10,000 degrees.
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.