Southern Cross Stargazer for March 17-23

 

Sunday

In evening twilight dim Comet PanSTARRS cruises 10 degrees above the western horizon. The comet lies above the setting sun and is visible until Earth slowly rotates eastward, blocking the western view of the comet. Binoculars are best for comet viewing. The moon nudges bright Jupiter by 1.5 degrees against the stars of Taurus, Bull. Two satellite moons of Jupiter will swing briefly behind the planet. At 10:51 p.m. Europa disappears followed by Io 1 hour and 23 minutes later. Aim telescopes as they reappear 68 minutes later on the opposite edge of Jupiter. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) lower left of Jupiter.The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster of 500 young blue stars) shimmer to lower right of Jupiter.

Aries, Ram, lands on the western horizon. Bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, toward the northwest. The Big Dipper rises in the northeast. The Gemini Twins drift overhead. The Beehive cluster follows the Twins. Leo, Lion, climbs higher in the east. Procyon, Little Dog, follows gigantic Orion, Hunter into the southwest. Brilliant blue Sirius (nearby star) sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog trailed by the Pups in the south. Canopus radiates rainbow colors low in the south. About 11 p.m. Corvus, Crow flies higher in the southeast followed by Spica, in Virgo, and silver Saturn, in Libra.

Tuesday

First quarter moon occurs 1:27 p.m.

Wednesday

Spring arrives at 7:02 a.m. The Vernal Equinox occurs when the northbound sun crosses the equator, rises due east and sets due west. Night and day hours are about equal for several days. Comet PanSTARRS cruises 10 degrees above the setting sun in the west.

Friday

Program: Southern Cross Astros will arrange hi-tech equipment for a Spring Star Party from 7-10 p.m. at Fruit & Spice Park, 24801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead. The free Family Night includes tram rides through the moonlit park, youngsters can pet the friendly Arctic wolf, refreshments at a low cost and a view of the star-studded western sky. 305-661-1375 scas.org

Saturday

Before dawn, bright Arcturus sparkles west of Zenith. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest. The Lion crawls westward. Saturn follows Spica across the southwest. Huge Scorpius slides into the southwest followed by the Sagittarian Teapot in the south. Mercury appears on the east-southeastern horizon. Vega leads the vast Summer Triangle toward the Zenith.

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

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