Skywatch: We bid farewell to winter this week

Last Quarter Moon

If you’re out Sunday evening and the skies cooperate look for the Last Quarter Moon.

It officially arrives Monday morning at 5:34 a.m. but the half-moon will be out Sunday evening & Monday morning.

Planet Watching

Speaking of the moon, you can use it to help you find four planets in the morning sky this week.

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You’ll need a clear view of the horizon to do so, though. Jupiter will appear just above Mars with Saturn and Mercury below and left of the pair.

On Wednesday morning the Waning Crescent Moon will hang just below Jupiter & Mars.

Spring Equinox

On Thursday we’ll officially bid farewell to the winter season. At 11:50 p.m. the sun will be directly overhead at the equator. This marks the vernal or spring equinox.

The sun will continue to climb higher in the sky until it reaches its highest point on the summer solstice, which will be here before you know it.

The Fastest Sunsets are this Week

If it seems like the sun is rising and setting faster than normal this week you’re not imagining things. Sunrises and sunsets are actually faster around the equinoxes. Because the sun rises and sets nearly due east and due west on the equinox it hits the horizon at a steep angle.

On the solstices, the angle of the rising/setting sun is shallower and therefore sunrises and sunsets take just a little longer. In fact, at our latitude there’s about a 30-second discrepancy in the time it takes for the sun to rise and set between the equinoxes and solstices. Happy hunting!