Winter constellations drift westward. By nightfall, Orion, the Hunter, strides across the west in pursuit of the Bull in the northwest. The Great Orion Nebula (stellar nursery) glows from his sword. Betelgeuse, Orion’s left shoulder star, is a red supergiant hundreds of times larger than our Sun. Procyon, the Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant blue Sirius (nearby star) sparkles from Orion’s Big Dog in the southwest, trailed by the Pups in the south.
The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) lead bright Jupiter into the northwest in Taurus, the Bull. Ruddy Aldebarn (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) below Jupiter. Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, lower in the northwest. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Its bowl always faces Polaris, the North Star. The tip of the Little Dipper’s handle is Polaris. Leo, the Lion, crawls overhead.
Arcturus rises in the east-northeast. Mid-evening Corvus, the Crow, flies higher in the southeast. Spica, in Virgo, appears in the southeast. Half an hour later Saturn, in Libra, rises in the east. It will be closest to Earth and brightest next week. Late evening, Hercules escorts bright Vega in Lyra, the Harp, above the northeastern horizon. Around midnight early Lyrid Meteors may be visible in the northeast. Jupiter sets in the northwest by midnight.
In the predawn, the Lyrid Meteor Shower may produce 15 meteors per hour after a 4 a.m. moonset.
Lyrids radiate from Vega (now overhead) and are bright, fast and leave colorful trains. Vega leads the Summer Triangle toward the Zenith.
Tonight the bright moon nudges Spica in the southeast.
The planting moon is full at 3:57 p.m. Tonight the moon floats 4 degrees below Saturn.
Dim Comet PanSTARRS cruises across Queen Cassiopeia near the northwestern horizon.
In the predawn, the bright moon leads huge Scorpius into the southwest. Bright Antares, a red supergiant, is known as the red heart in the Scorpion’s torso. The Sagittarian Teapot (center of our Milky Way Galaxy) closely follows Scorpius. Vega leads the Summer Triangle overhead. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle. The Summer Milky Way arches from the Teapot to the Triangle. Saturn glows above Spica in the west. Bright Arcturus sparkles in the northwest. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org