Southern Cross stargazer
In evening twilight, the delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) dance overhead. In the east, bright Jupiter glows against the stars of Taurus, Bull. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) below Jupiter. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, toward the north. The Royal Family reigns in the north. Gigantic Orion, Hunter, rises higher in the east and chases the Bull across the south. The Great Orion Nebula (stellar nursery) gleams from his sword. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Aries, Ram, tracks the Winged Horse (Pegasus) westward. The Northern Cross stands on the northwestern horizon inside the Summer Triangle. Dim Mars hovers near the southwestern horizon in Capricornus, Sea Goat. Neptune, in Aquarius, sails onto the southwestern horizon. Fomalhaut twinkles left of Mars. They set early. Blue-green Uranus glides into the southwest in Pisces, Fish. Mid-evening the Gemini Twins bring the dim Beehive star cluster higher in the northeast. Brilliant blue Sirius (nearby star) sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast. Late evening, Leo, Lion appears in the east.
Mid-evening, dim 11th magnitude Comet Linear 2012 K5 cruises 5 degrees below Aldebaran in the east.
By 2:30 a.m. Corvus, Crow leads Spica, in Virgo, followed by silver Saturn in Libra, above the southeastern horizon. Before dawn, the waning moon leads huge Scorpius higher in the southeast. Antares, known as the red heart, beats in the Scorpion’s torso. Brilliant Venus, Morning Star, sinks 12 degrees closer to the southeastern horizon. Bright Vega rises in the northeast. Arcturus sparkles in the east. The Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, lead the Beehive cluster into the northwest. Leo, Lion crawls westward. Before 6 a.m. Jupiter sets in the northwest.
Before dawn, aim binoculars at the thin crescent moon rising 3 degrees from brilliant Venus low in the southeast. The moon will be closest to Earth, 223,700 miles and may create shoreline flooding.
New moon occurs at 2:44 p.m.
Aim binoculars to the young moon 7 degrees to the right of dim Mars low in the southwest. They set by 7 p.m.
Star party in Everglades National Park: By nightfall, park rangers will offer a night sky program as Southern Cross Astros focus high-tech telescopes on blazing winter skies from the dark Mahogany Hammock site, 22 miles from the Florida City park entrance. Admission: $10 per/car. 305-242-7720/7700.
Compiled by Barb Yager,
Southern Cross Astronomical Society,