At sunset Jupiter, King of the Planets, makes its grand entrance in the east-northeast in Taurus, Bull. At 9 p.m. Jupiter lies opposite the sun and cruises closest to Earth at 390 million miles. This month Jupiter will be brightest, largest and visible from sunset to dawn. Telescopes reveal the storm bands on the planet’s surface and four closest orbiting satellite moons.
At the lower right of Jupiter, Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). The Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) shimmer above. Bright Capella guides the Charioteer across the northeast. Orion, Hunter, reclines in the east. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. The Royal Family reigns in the north.
Aries, Ram, chases Pegasus (Winged Horse) westward. Fomalhaut twinkles low in the southwest. Blue-green Uranus, in Pisces, drifts across the south. Dim Neptune lies in the southwest. Mars sits atop the handle of the tilted Sagittarian Teapot 10 degrees above the southwestern horizon. Vega leads the Summer Triangle low in the northwest. Cygnus, Swan, becomes the Northern Cross inside the Triangle. Mid-evening, the Gemini Twins appear in the northeast. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast. Bright waning moon rises in the east.
About 6 a.m. Spica leads the planetary parade above the southeastern horizon. Silver Saturn climbs above brilliant Venus followed by Mercury. Leo, Lion, crawls westward.
Before dawn, Mercury reaches its highest altitude 21 degrees above the southeastern horizon.
Last Quarter Moon rises after midnight.
At dusk, Southern Cross Astros host a free public star party at their Redlands Observatory, 23325 SW 217th Ave., Miami-Dade. High-tech equipment will focus on Jupiter, nebulas, galaxies and clusters; 305-283-3771.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org