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Skywatch: Get Ready for a New Season

Summer arrives this week.
Credit: Look for Venus

Use the Moon to help you find Venus in the mornings later this week. The waning crescent will near planet Wednesday, Thursday & Friday in the morning. 

Look in the east before sunrise, Venus will shine brightly. You’ll need a clear view of the horizon to see it, though.

Credit: Courtesy: NASA

On Wednesday afternoon at around 4 p.m. Mercury will be “stationary”. As planets move across the sky they can move in prograde or retrograde motion. 

When they move with the apparent motion of the stars they’re in prograde motion. Sometimes they move against the motion of the stars in the sky as observed on Earth, this is known as retrograde motion. 

As they transition from one motion to the other they have to “pause” in the sky; that is when their motion is described as stationary. Mercury will be in retrograde motion now for a little less than a month.

Credit: Longest Sunsets of the Year

If the sunsets seem a little longer this week that’s not an accident. Sunsets (and sunrises) are longer at and near the solstice. They’re actually faster around the equinox. 

To explain why you have to think about the angle of the sun with relation to the horizon. 

Because the angle of the sun is shallower when compared with horizon during the solstices the sunrises & sunsets take about a half-a-minute longer then they do during the equinoxes.

Credit: The Summer Solstice

Speaking of the summer solstice it arrives on Saturday at 5:44 p.m. That is when the sun will be directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer. 

It also marks the longest day and shortest night in the Northern Hemisphere. So say “goodbye” to spring and “hello” to a new season. Happy hunting!