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Waxing moon moves past Mars and Saturn, nears star Antares

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The wide waxing crescent moon has moved eastward of the planets Mars and Saturn on the sky’s dome, and is now heading for Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. The name Antares is Greek for “like Ares,” probably because the color of this star resembles that of its namesake planet, the Greek Ares or the Roman Mars.

Late August and September 2014 guide to the five visible planets

Skywatcher, by Predrag Agatonovic.

Skywatcher, by Predrag Agatonovic.

Mars and Saturn appear at nightfall. Watch for them near the moon on August 31 and September 1. From southerly latitudes, you can also view Mercury near the sunset horizon. The morning planets are Jupiter and Venus.

Lava at Iceland volcano, as stormy weather approaches

There are lava fountains more than 50 meters high at the At the Holuhraun lava field, which has been erupting since Sunday morning, August 31.

There are lava fountains more than 50 meters high at the at Iceland’s Holuhraun lava field, which has been erupting since Sunday morning, August 31.

UPDATE AUGUST 31, 2014 A considerable eruption has occurred this time along the fissure that stretches to the northeast from Iceland’s Bárðarbunga volcano, currently the most-watched volcano in the world. The eruption up to 50 times bigger than what occurred on Friday, August 29.

Andromeda Galaxy

Photo credit: Tom Wildoner

Photo credit: Tom Wildoner

Beautiful shot of M31 – closest large spiral galaxy to our Milky Way – by our friend Tom Wildoner.

Spectacular moon, Mars and Saturn at nightfall August 31

GregDiesel Landscape Photography wrote,

Last night’s view of the planets and moon, from GregDiesel Landscape Photography.

You won’t want to miss the beautiful celestial attraction on the evening of August 31, as the rather wide waxing crescent moon, and the planets Mars and Saturn all bunch up together in the southwest sky as darkness falls. Take a stroll with a loved one, or family and friends, to see all these worlds lighting up starry heavens first thing at nightfall.

Moon east of Spica, west of 2 planets at nightfall August 30

Moon moving toward Mars and Saturn on August 30, joins up with Mars and Saturn on August 31 and moves on toward Antares on September 1

Moon moving toward Mars and Saturn on August 30, joins up with Mars and Saturn on August 31 and moves on toward Antares on September 1.

As darkness falls around the world on August 30, look for the star Spica to the west of tonight’s waxing crescent moon. Planets Mars and Saturn are to the east of tonight’s moon. Remember, west is in the direction of sunset.

Everything you need to know: zodiacal light or false dawn

The zodiacal light – or false dawn – is an eerie light extending up from the eastern horizon, before sunrise, in autumn. You might also see it in the west after sunset, in springtime, in which case it’s called the false dusk. The light looks like a hazy pyramid of light extending up from the horizon. Follow the links inside to learn more about the zodiacal light.

How far is a light-year?

The Orion Nebula, 1,500 light years from Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

The Orion Nebula, 1,500 light years from Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI


Here’s your FAQ for this Friday ….

Light is the fastest-moving stuff in the universe. It travels at an incredible 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) per second. That’s very fast. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year. How far is that?

Purple aurora

Photo credit: Göran Strand

Photo credit: Göran Strand

Very beautiful aurora over Östersund, Sweden. We love aurora season!

Moon near star Spica, heading for Mars and Saturn, on August 29

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As soon as darkness falls on August 29, look low in the southwest sky for the slender waxing crescent moon and the star Spica. Over the next few days, at nightfall, watch for the moon to move away from Spica and toward the planets Mars and Saturn. Be sure to catch the moon and Spica as soon as darkness falls, for the two will follow the sun beneath the horizon shortly thereafter.