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Volume 16, Issue 43 - October 23 - October 29, 2008
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Sky Watch by J. Alex Knoll

The Seasonal Holdouts

Early evening’s brightest are summer stars

Sunset falls around 6:15 at week’s end and more than a minute earlier day by day. As the sky darkens, two brilliant stars shine directly overhead. Vega, to the west of the sky’s apex and by far the brightest star visible, marks the celestial harp Lyra. To the east, Deneb punctuates the tip of the familiar-shaped Northern Cross, or Cygnus the swan. To the south in the constellation Aquila the eagle is Altair, mid-way between Vega and Deneb. These three stars make up the Summer Triangle, which despite its name remains a fixture in our evening skies, pirouetting westward month by month but not disappearing until well into the new year.

Another of summer’s stars, Antares, burns low in the southwest at dusk. Don’t confuse this red-giant with golden Venus, just a few degrees higher and brighter than anything else in the sky. The two inch toward one another, until Sunday Antares is less than three degrees below Venus. Within two weeks, Antares and its constellation, Scorpius, will sink from view. Venus, however, holds off twilight’s glow, slowly marching to the south.

The waning crescent moon rises closer and closer to dawn, near 7:30 this week, before winking out of view with Tuesday’s new phase. Friday, the moon rises almost due east around 3am with Saturn 10 degrees in its wake. The next morning the moon’s upper tip points to Saturn five degrees away. By Sunday, the moon rises with the coming dawn and Saturn now well in the lead, while Mercury follows an equal distance behind. Finally, you may need binoculars to spot the whisper-thin crescent moon rising just ahead of the sun Monday around 7am with Mercury about five degrees to 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.

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