This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 February 25 – March 4~

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 February 25 – March 4~

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 February 25 – March 4~

Two of the largest constellations are seen in the southwest and southeast around mid-evening. Eridanus the River flows from Rigel in Orion’s foot to the lower right, and then makes a sharp curve to the left before disappearing below the horizon. It doesn’t end there; it extends at least the same distance southward to terminate at Achernar, the ninth brightest star in the sky. Achernar, of course, means “the river’s end.” The star near Rigel is named Cursa, which means “the footstool.” In terms of square degrees of sky, Eridanus is the sixth largest constellation. It has been associated with many earthly rivers but most often with the Po River in Italy, which the Greeks called Eridanos.

Hydra the female Water Snake rises out of the southeast, with its head reaching as high as Orion’s. A smaller constellation called Hydrus the male Water Snake is near Achernar and is never seen from New Brunswick. Hydra is the largest of the 88 constellations and one of the longest. If you consider the horizon as the ocean surface, and if you have all night, you can picture Hydra leaping completely out of the water and disappearing in a giant belly flop. Its brightest star, Alphard the “solitary one,” just makes the top 50 in terms of brightness. In mythology the Hydra was a multi-headed creature slain by Hercules as his second labour.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:05 am and sunset will occur at 5:59 pm, giving 10 hours, 54 minutes of daylight (7:09 am and 6:05 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 6:53 am and set at 6:09 pm, giving 11 hours, 16 minutes of daylight (6:57 am and 6:15 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is at first quarter on Monday, cuddling up closely to Mars late that evening, and on Thursday night it moves past the bright star Pollux in Gemini. Venus and Jupiter are certain to catch the eye after sunset on Wednesday as they slide toward the horizon, side by side, a Moon-width apart and setting around 8:50. Mars is high in the south between the horns of Taurus around 7 pm, highlighting a red triangle with Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. Mercury and Saturn cross paths midweek, unseen as they rise 15 minutes before sunrise.

On Sunday evening at 8 pm, tune in to the Sunday Night Astronomy Show via the Facebook page or YouTube channel of Astronomy by the Bay.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason 


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