Volume XVII, Issue 15 - April 9 - April 15, 2009

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Sky Watch by J. Alex Knoll

Bright Sights Through the Night

With so much to see, you may not get to bed

Thursday’s full moon is the first since vernal equinox, making it the Paschal moon, which marks the commencement of Passover and which determines the date of Easter. It is also called the egg moon, the grass moon, the phlox moon and the frog moon, all in keeping with spring’s rekindling of life. Shining from dusk till dawn, the moon arcs gracefully through the southern sky. The usually bright star Spica shines through the moonlight a few degrees higher and to the right.

With the stroke of midnight Monday morning, the moon rises in the southeast with the red-giant Antares just a few degrees behind. As the two rise higher and travel westward, they draw closer together. As the sun rises around 6:30, they are little more than one degree apart low in the southwest.

This week the setting winter star Capella and the rising spring star Arcturus stand juxtaposed in the night sky. Look for yellow-white Capella high in the west at sunset, around 7:40 this week. At the same time, orange-hued Arcturus sparkles above the east horizon. Arcturus, the brighter of the two, is the fourth-brightest star, following Sirius and Canopus and Alpha Centauri in the Southern Hemisphere.

As dusk turns to darkness, Mercury shines low in the west before setting at 8:40. Saturn shines through the night, appearing high in the east with sunset, standing tall in the south come midnight and finally setting almost due west at 5am. As ringed Saturn sets in the west, Venus rises in the southeast. Having just passed between the sun and earth, Venus has migrated from evening to pre-dawn skies. This morning star is a fast mover, rising more than three minutes earlier each day.

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.