At dusk, aim binoculars on Mercury and Mars descending onto the southwestern horizon. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, the Winged Horse, onto the western horizon. Blue-green Uranus, in Pisces the Fish, lies 6 degrees above the western horizon until 8 p.m. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster of 500 young blue stars) lead bright Jupiter, in Taurus the Bull, westward. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) lower left of Jupiter. Bright Capella (two stars close together) guides Auriga, the Charioteer, across the north. The Gemini Twins bring the Beehive star cluster higher in the northeast. The Big Dipper rises in the northeast.
The bright moon leads Leo the Lion, toward the Zenith. Orion the Hunter, strides high across the south, followed by Procyon, the Little Dog. Below Orion’s belt his sword contains the Great Orion Nebula, a huge gas cloud of newborn stars. Brilliant blue Sirius (a nearby star) sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast. A tiny white dwarf “companion star” orbits Sirius once every 50 years. Canopus radiates rainbow colors in binoculars from the ancient ship Argo low in the south. Before midnight Spica, in Virgo, appears in the southeast followed by silver Saturn in Libra. Fiery Arcturus sparkles in the northeast.
The Wolf Moon is full at 3:26 p.m. The moon rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west at dawn.
By nightfall, the Zodiacal Light, a pyramid of dim light, may be visible rising from the western horizon. Zillions of cosmic particles reflect sunlight near the times of the equinox.
By midnight, the waning moon floats 0.1 degree from Spica.
After midnight the moon rises near Saturn. Jupiter sets in the northwest. The Lion crawls westward. Bright Arcturus sparkles overhead. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest. Saturn follows Spica across the southwest. Huge Scorpius crawls across the south, followed by the Sagittarian Teapot. In the predawn, Vega brings the vast Summer Triangle higher in the northeast.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org