New moon occurs 2:20 a.m.
By nightfall, aim binoculars to the young crescent moon and dark earthshine above two planets low in the southwest. Mercury glistens 3 degrees above dim Mars near the southwestern horizon. Blue-green Uranus follows dim Neptune lower in the southwest. Four planets set early. Bright Jupiter lies overhead in Taurus, Bull. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) dance ahead of the Bull. The Royal Family swings into the northwest. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, across the north. The Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, bring the Beehive cluster higher in the northeast. Gigantic Orion, Hunter, strides into the south, followed by Procyon, Little Dog.
Before 7 p.m. brilliant blue Sirius (a nearby star) sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog trotting on its hind legs in the southeast. The Pups trail the Big Dog. Mid-evening, bright Canopus radiates rainbow colors from the ancient ship Argo in the south. Leo, Lion, crawls higher in the east. The Big Dipper rises in the northeast. Its bowl faces Polaris, North Star. By midnight, silver Saturn appears on the southeastern horizon and rises slightly earlier every week.
In the predawn, Corvus, Crow leads Spica, in Virgo, followed by silver Saturn, in Libra, into the southwest. Huge Scorpius crawls higher in the southeast. Ruddy Antares, red heart, beats in the Scorpion’s torso. Vega brings the Summer Triangle into the northeast. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Bright Arcturus sparkles overhead. The Lion crawls low in the west. At dawn, brilliant Venus hugs the southeastern horizon.
• Event: Southern Cross President Lester Shalloway and astronomer Roberto Torres present their lecture, Backyard Astronomy, at 8 p.m. at the FIU Physics Building, CP-145 lecture hall, Modesto Maidique campus. A preview of neighboring light control, basic equipment and preparation for observing two spring comets. Q & A. followed by refreshments, prizes. Free. Park in the FIU campus garage west side of Southwest 109th Avenue/Eighth Street and follow the SCAS signs. Details: scas.org, 305-661-1375.
Mercury will reach its highest altitude 18 degrees above the southwestern horizon and set mid-evening.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org