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Volume XVII, Issue 45 ~ November 5 - November 11, 2009

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Sky Watch

by J. Alex Knoll

Following the Waning Moon

While itself a sight, it travels in good company, too

The waning gibbous moon rises around 7:15pm Thursday beneath the horns of Taurus the bull. Hour by hour the moon inches eastward moon-width by moon-width until it is high in the west come daybreak, around 6:40am Friday.

The next night the moon rises nearly 90 minutes later, beneath the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux. Saturday night the three line up, with the moon less than 10 degrees below Pollux, the dimmer of the two, and bright Castor, that much farther again beyond the moon.

Sunday the last-quarter moon crests the horizon around 11pm, with orange Mars just a few degrees above the moon’s upper tip. As the sky lightens with the approaching dawn, the two remain tight high in the south.

While the moon and Mars are close to one another Sunday night and Monday before dawn, they are also close to the buzzing lights of the beehive cluster, M44, located at the center of the constellation Cancer.

Visible to the unaided eye for millennia as a blurry or cloudy star, it was not until 1609 when Galileo discovered otherwise. Through his telescope he discovered that “Praesepe … is not one star only, but a mass of more than 40 small stars.” Today, armed with a modest telescope or even strong binoculars, you can discern at least as many stars as did Galileo, while big-league astronomers have identified upward of 200 stars within the nebula.

The moon rises at the stroke of midnight separating Tuesday from Wednesday. The red light of Regulus, the heart of Leo the lion, shines to the moon’s left. The next morning bright Saturn is to the left of the moon as dawn approaches.

Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2009 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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