Southern Cross Stargazer for Dec. 30-Jan. 5

 

Sunday

Before sunset, bright Jupiter rises in the east in Taurus, Bull. Below Jupiter, ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades star cluster (Bull’s face). Before 7 p.m., the delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) shimmer above Jupiter and the Hyades. Bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia (M-shaped group), daughter Andromeda and Perseus, Hero. Vega leads the Summer Triangle into the northwest. Cygnus, Swan becomes the Northern Cross within the Triangle. Aries, Ram chases the Winged Horse (Pegasus) westward. Dim Mars hovers low in the southwest in Capricornus, Sea Goat and sets early. Neptune lies in the southwest in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles left of Mars. Blue-green Uranus, in Pisces, drifts across the south. Gigantic Orion, Hunter, awakens in the east and chases the Bull across the sky all night, followed by Procyon, Little Dog. The Beehive star cluster appears in the northeast below the Gemini Twins. Brilliant blue Sirius (a nearby star) sparkles in the southeast in Orion’s Big Dog. By 11 p.m. the bright waning moon leads Leo, Lion above the eastern horizon.

Monday

About 3 a.m. silver Saturn, encircled by its icy rings, rises in the southeast in Libra. and follows Spica, in Virgo. Before dawn, huge Scorpius climbs above the southeastern horizon. Brilliant Venus, Morning Star, glows in the southeast near Scorpius. At dawn, Mercury descends onto the southeastern horizon, lower left of Venus. Arcturus sparkles in the east. The Lion crawls westward. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. The Gemini Twins drift into the northwest. Bright Jupiter sets in the west. Capella glows near the northwestern horizon.

Star Party: Southern Cross Astros will host a public Star Party Monday at dusk at Redlands Observatory, 23225 SW 217th Ave. Bring snacks (gas grill available), chairs, bug repellant, binoculars and telescopes. SCAS Astros will arrange high-tech equipment to view planets, nebulas, clusters and more. No lights, litter or pets. 305-283-3771 www.scas.org

Wednesday

At midnight Earth makes its annual closest pass by the sun at 91.4 million miles.

Thursday

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower may be visible near ruddy Arcturus between 6 and 7 a.m. and produce 50 or more meteors per hour that can be viewed from a dark site.

Friday

Last quarter moon occurs 10:58 p.m.

Saturday

In the predawn, the waning moon floats near Spica in Virgo.

Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org

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