Fireball Meteor

A brilliant fireball meteor, as bright as the moon, shot across the sky early Sunday evening. It was seen as far north as Maine and a far south as the New Jersey. David Stanwood, who lives off Lambert’s Cove Road, in West Tisbury, saw it from the backyard of his house.

“At first I thought it was the lights of a jet nosing into the sound, then realized it was at least two large brilliant white fragments of a meteor streaking to the North,” Mr. Stanwood said. He said he watched it for about two seconds.

First Day of Winter

Winter arrives tomorrow at 11 minutes after noon. Daylight is at a premium now. This weekend and the days ahead are the shortest of the year. But the shortest day is really more a concept than a reality. Our position on the Earth, our latitude and the atmosphere on the horizon all play a part. Daylight is nine hours and five minutes, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

As we look ahead sunrises begin occuring later in the morning, thus adding to the amount of daylight. Sunrise tomorrow is at 7:05 a.m. By January 10 the sunrise will occur at 7:07 a.m.

Moon and Venus

Tonight the crescent moon appears above the bright planet Venus. The two are in the western sky. This weekend the moon will appear to move slowly away from Venus.

Planets and Moon

Is it a plane? No, Just Venus

We’ve watched Venus hover over the treeline in Tisbury for weeks. This is a planet everyone can find, as long as you have a clear view of the western sky. Early in the evening Venus looks like an airplane coming in to land at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

Venus hugs close to the western sky and sets about an hour after sunset, so viewing is limited.

Partial Solar Eclipse

There is a slight possibility Vineyarders can see a partial eclipse of the sun on Sunday morning at sunrise. Anything less than a clear sky will be a spoiler, though. Sunrise is at 6:15 a.m., take note the clocks turn back that morning. 

A solar eclipse is a rare event. For those in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and in parts of West Africa they’ll see the eclipse in full. It will be short and spectacular.

But on the Vineyard, we get the tail end of the show. The rising sun will look like someone took a big bite out of it. 

Moon and Jupiter

Late tonight there is a pairing up of the gibbous moon and Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. The two will rise in the east together before 11 p.m. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Gemini.

By midnight, Jupiter and the moon will be high in the east. By dawn tomorrow morning, they will be high in the west.

Tomorrow night offers another view, however the moon is slowly moving east and the two will be farther apart. On Sunday night, the moon is in the last quarter phase and not far from the red planet Mars.    

Pumpkin Moon

The Friday night full moon is called the Pumpkin Moon and it is in the zodiacal constellation Pisces. The moon will dominate evening skies through the coming weekend.

As the full moon climbs higher in the eastern sky in the evenings, it will be followed by the zodiacal constellation Taurus.

Autumn Begins

Fall officially arrives on Sunday at 4:44 p.m. Daylight is becoming a precious commodity.

Already maple trees are changing their colors and Virginia creeper is turning brilliant red.

Stars overhead have changed significantly from summer. The Milky Way, a long ribbon of billions of stars, now rises in the northeast, moving high across our western sky and setting in the southwest.

After Sunset

Our evening skies are filled with three celestial objects in the west this coming week: the Moon, Saturn and Venus. Every night is different.

A thin crescent moon will appear right next to the brilliant planet Venus on Sunday night, not long after sunset. It shouldn’t be missed, as the two are quite close. Both are in the zodiacal constellation Libra.

If you miss this opportunity, look again Monday night for the moon to appear higher in the west, and near the bright planet Saturn.

Morning Moon and Planets

For those who rise early tomorrow morning there is a pretty scene over the eastern sky, an hour or more before sunrise. A thin crescent moon appears right next to the bright planet Jupiter. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Gemini.

On Sunday morning the moon is closer to the horizon and above the red planet Mars. On Monday morning the moon is a thinner crescent and underneath Mars. Both are in the zodiacal constellation Cancer.

Mars and Jupiter are distinctly different in brightness. Jupiter is the far brighter, while Mars is a dull red.