Mark Alan Lovewell

Nights are Short

We are now in the month when daylight prevails in buckets. With the first day of summer only two weeks away, we are experiencing late sunsets and early sunrises. If you like the night sky, it is now at a premium.

Twilight sticks around well after 8 p.m. and dawn comes at its earliest around 4 o'clock.

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Planets in the Morning

All our visible planets are in the morning sky and it is an impressive arrangement. A thin crescent moon appears right next to the red planet Mars on Sunday morning. The two are only a few degrees apart. It is possible you will see the bright planet Jupiter rising in the east at twilight. Jupiter will be more readily visible in the weeks and thus months ahead. But even better, note that the planet Saturn is a good deal to the right of Mars and to the south. Saturn is in proximity to the zodiacal constellation Aquarius.

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Memorial Day Weekend

Yesterday's full moon, the Honey Moon, will continue to dominate our evening skies through this weekend. The moon is brilliant. There are no planets in our evening sky and thus the Moon is the commander and chief. The moon moves through the southern most zodiacal constellations Sagittarius this weekend, thus it remains low in our southern skies.

Use these evenings to familiarize yourself with the stars of summer coming quickly.

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Moon and Two Bright Stars

The moon is in a close path with two of the brighest stars in our evening sky in the coming week. The gibbous moon, waxing, will approach the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo on Sunday night. Take a look. The moon is almost on a collision course. The two will be only a few degrees apart during the night, the closest being less than two degrees.

Their proximity is so close most folks will miss it. Take a look during the evening as this slow motion event takes place.

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Mercury, Mars and Saturn

There are three visible planets in the early morning sky.

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Vineyard Skies: Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower

The Vineyard will be treated to a pretty good meteor shower in the early hours of Sunday, May 5 and Monday, May 6.

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Say Goodbye to Jupiter

The brightest planet in our evening sky is about to disappear, or for many of us, it is already gone. The brilliant planet Jupiter is getting so close to the western horizon after sunset you may miss it. Jupiter was a sentinel in our evening sky for so many many months, going back to autumn.

Jupiter is about to be hidden by the glow of the sun and won't be visible again until summer, when it appears in the morning sky. Certainly the earliest you'll see Jupiter is at the end of May, at dawn, in the morning sky.

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Lyrid Meteor Shower and Full Moon

From Sunday night into the wee hours of Monday morning, we will experience a meteor shower. Meteors, also called shooting stars, will appear sporadically through out the night. Unfortunately, a near full moon will obstruct our being able to see most of them. The Lyrid meteor shower is an annual event. The meteors appear to come from the zodiacal constellation Lyra, one of the smallest constellations in the summer and late spring sky.

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Crescent Moon in Gemini

The crescent moon appears in the southwestern sky this weekend. Tonight the moon is in the zodiacal constellation Taurus. It moves through the zodiacal constellation Gemini over the weekend. These are the last you'll see of these two winter constellations. The two now hug the western sky and set not too long after the sun. This is a time to look forward to the constellations of spring.

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Solar Eclipse

The long awaited solar eclipse takes place in the afternoon of Monday, April 8. While this is not a total solar eclipse for Martha's Vineyard and much of New England there is plenty to watch. The eclipse is most notable at 3:25 p.m. when more than 90 per cent of the sun is blocked by the moon for ten minutes. The timing and the amount of totality will vary depending on where you are located.

The first evidence of the moon crossing over the sun will be noticeable through solar eclipse glasses after 2 p.m. and the whole show ends for us around 4:30 p.m.

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