Southern Cross Stargazer for March 24-30, 2013

 

Sunday

By nightfall, the bright moon glows in the east and escorts Leo, the Lion, toward the zenith. The Big Dipper rises higher in the northeast. Its bowl always faces Polaris, the North Star. The Little Dipper’s handle appears attached to Polaris. By 8 p.m. aim binoculars to dim Comet PanSTARRS 10 degrees above the northwestern horizon, about 12 degrees below the Andromeda galaxy M-31. Aries, the Ram, butts the western horizon. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) shimmer lower right of bright Jupiter, which is high in the northwest in Taurus, the Bull.

With telescopes, four closest satellite moons are visible orbiting the King of the Planets. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face), lower left of Jupiter. Aldebaran is a red giant star 65 light years from Earth. Bright Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, toward the northwest. The Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, drift overhead followed by the dim Beehive star cluster.

Gigantic Orion, the Hunter, strides into the southwest in pursuit of the Bull. Procyon, the Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant blue Sirius (nearby star) sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the south trailed by the Pups. Bright Canopus radiates rainbow colors from the ancient ship Argo low in the south. Canopus was the navigation star for early explorers in the southern hemisphere. Mid-evening, bright Arcturus rises in the northeast. About 10 p.m. kite-shaped Corvus, the Crow, flies above the southeastern horizon followed by Spica, in Virgo. Silver Saturn appears in the southeast, in Libra, by 11 p.m.

Wednesday

Easter moon is full at 5:27 a.m. Mid-evening, Corvus leads the moon and Spica higher in the southeast. Saturn, encircled by icy rings, appears later.

Thursday

Tonight the moon floats between Spica and Saturn in the southeast.

Saturday

At dawn Mercury shimmers near the southeastern horizon. The Sagittarian Teapot (center of our Milky Way Galaxy) shimmers in the south. Huge Scorpius crawls toward the southwest. Bright Antares, a red giant star known as the heart, beats in the Scorpion’s torso. Arcturus sparkles west of Zenith. The Big Dipper swings in the northwest. Vega, in Lyra the Harp, leads the Summer Triangle toward the Zenith.

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

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