At dusk bright Jupiter glows against the stars of Taurus, Bull, in the east-northeast. To the lower right, ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). The Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) shimmer above them. Bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, across the northeast. The Royal Family reigns in the north. Aries, Ram, chases the Winged Horse (Pegasus) westward. Dim Mars hovers above the southwest horizon and sets before 7:30 p.m. Neptune drifts lower in the southwest, above the star Fomalhaut. Blue-green Uranus lies in the south. Huge Orion, Hunter, awakens in the east and strides across the south all night. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Mid-evening the Gemini Twins appear in the northeast above the dim Beehive cluster, in Cancer the Crab. Brilliant blue Sirius (nearby star) sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast. By midnight, Leo, Lion, appears in the east.
At dawn huge Scorpius peers over the southeastern horizon. Bright Venus, Morning Star, glows directly above Antares (Scorpion’s red heart). Mercury lies lower left of Venus. Spica, in Virgo, leads silver Saturn, Venus and Mercury higher in the southeast. The Lion crawls westward. Sirius sparkles low in the southwest. Jupiter sets in the west.
First Quarter Moon occurs 12:19 a.m. After sunset, the moon drifts past Uranus in the south.
Winter Solstice Star Party: 5-9 p.m. at Bill Baggs State Park, 1200 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne. Park near the lighthouse and walk to the observation area where SCAS equipment will focus on bright Jupiter, its moons, star clusters and more. Sunset park admission $4 per car 4:30-5:30 p.m.; gate closes 8 p.m. No lights, lasers, litter, pets or grills; 305-661-1375, 305-361-8779.
The Winter Solstice opens the winter season in the northern hemisphere. The Sun arrives at its southernmost point on the Tropic of Capricorn at 6:12 a.m. in the southern hemisphere. Days are shortest and nights longest.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org