22 October 2008

Dark October Mornings

Last year the US Congress made a change in daylight savings time. Rather than end in October it now carries into November. The effect of this is that mornings are dark in October, making it hard to get up and get going. On the other hand, it makes it much easier to see the morning sky and in the coming days it's going to be noteworthy.

Sunrise is happening this week at 7:30 which means that up until 6:45 or so, the sky is dark enough to see stars and planets. The diagram shows where to look for the Moon, Saturn and even Mercury. In the Fall, the path of the planets and Moon (the ecliptic) is in a very steep line from the point of sunrise into the eastern sky. Hence Mercury will be visible just above the point where the Sun will be rising, and Saturn and the Moon in increasing distances above and to the south of Mercury.

I love to see the very old Moon in the last days of its cycle. The ever thinning crescent reflects more and more "earthshine" and glows like a jewel in the morning sky. As October comes to a close, the waning Moon on the 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th should be a striking sight as the sky begins to glow with the dawn.

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