StarWatch for the greater Lehigh Valley

058    OCTOBER 5, 1997:   Ares Near to Antares
The week begins with a thin crescent moon above Venus in the west after sunset. On Monday the moon is above and to the left of Mars as it heads for first quarter on Thursday morning. The moon continues its eastward trek passing above Neptune and Uranus on Friday. It is to Jupiterís right on Friday evening, and left of Jove by Saturday. On Saturday, right after dusk, return back to the western sky to view Mars. Just below and to Marsí left, you will come across a reddish star known to the Greeks as Antares. Itís the brightest star of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Hercules or Xena fans will already recognize that Ares was the God of War to the Greeks. The Romans called him Mars. Antares is Greek for the "rival of Ares," or the rival of Mars. Both Mars and Antares should appear equally bright, but Mars will shine with a steadier light. Binoculars will help make your observations more successful.
059    OCTOBER 12, 1997:   Days of the Week Honor the Gods
The seven days of the week were named after the five naked eye planets, the sun, and the moon. It is obvious where Sunday and Monday came from, and Saturday was named after the Roman god of the harvest, Saturn. But what about the other four days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday? These corresponding English words were derived from the Germanic (Norse) gods, Tiw, identified with the Roman god Mars; Woden--Mercury, Thor--Jupiter, and Freyja--Venus. While the year and month had direct relationships to the period of Earthís orbit around the sun, and the duration of the moonís cycle of phases, the week was strictly arbitrary. The Egyptians favored dividing their month into thirds, while the Greeks avoided the week altogether. The Judeo-Christian tradition of a seven day week was officially adopted by the Roman Emperor, Constantine and solidified under the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. The moon, this week, is very near Saturn on Mercuryís day; thatís Wednesday evening. View with binoculars.
060    OCTOBER 19, 1997:   Venus Passes Mars
Two weeks ago, I spoke about the red planet Mars being close to the red star, Antares, in Scorpius, the Scorpion. In fact, Antares is Greek for the rival of Mars. Presently, Mars and Venus have passed Antares. At the start of this week, Venus lies between these two objects. View with binoculars, about 45 minutes after sunset, if you want to see Mars and Antares clearly. You will also need a good southwestern horizon. From left to right or above to below, the line-up will be Mars, Venus, and Antares. Now the race begins, because as the week progresses, youíll note Venus slowly gaining on Mars and the two objects continuing to pull away from Antares. By next Sunday, October 26, Venus will appear only two degrees below Mars--thatís only four moon diameters away. If you continue watching during the following weeks, Mars will be left farther behind as Venus takes a commanding lead. Youíre watching the rhythmic dance of the planets. Enjoy!
061    OCTOBER 26, 1997:   Fall Back to Standard Time
This morning at 2:00 a.m. Allentown and the rest of the East Coast quietly slipped back from Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) to Eastern Standard Time (EST). We should have all caught up on that extra hour of sleep which we were denied last spring when time jumped ahead by the same amount. The whole concept of EST and EDT is to bring the daylight hours more in line with our daytime activities. We want to be up and about when the sun is around. Without EDT the sun in June would rise at 4:30 a.m. and set at 7:30 p.m. With EDT it rises and sets one hour later: 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively. Now it is time to readjust ourselves to a more "standard" sunrise as the daylight hours shrink with the coming of winter. By the time of the New Year, the sun will be rising at 7:30 a.m. and setting at 4:30 p.m. Remember itís fall behind and spring ahead for the timekeeping changes which regulate our lives.