Saturn lies opposite the sun at 4 a.m.
Before 8:30 p.m. winter constellations twinkle in the west. Most will disappear by mid-May. Aim binoculars to the delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) leading Taurus, Bull lower in the northwest. Bright Jupiter glows in Taurus in the west and sets about 11 p.m. Telescopes reveal the four closest satellite moons dancing around Jupiter. Ruddy Aldebaran (red giant star known as the Bull's red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull's face) below Jupiter. The clusters set early.
Gigantic Orion, Hunter, chases the Bull lower in the northwest. The Great Orion Nebula (stellar nursery) glistens in Orion's sword. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant Sirius, blue eye sparkles in Orion's Big Dog in the southwest, trailed by the Pups in the south. Leo, Lion, crawls overhead. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star. The end of the Little Dipper's handle is Polaris. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, lower in the northwest. The dim Beehive star cluster follows the Gemini Twins into the northwest. Bright Arcturus sparkles in the east, beyond the handle of the Big Dipper.
By nightfall, Corvus, Crow, flies ahead of Spica, in Virgo in the southeast. Silver Saturn, encircled by its icy rings, rises in the east in Libra soon after sunset and sets in the west at dawn. Saturn will be brightest and closest to Earth this week. Telescopes will reveal the Cassini divisions in the rings of ice, and the largest satellite moon Titan orbiting Saturn every 16 nights. Stunning views of Saturn and its satellites moons will be shown in Southern Cross’ high-tech equipment for several weeks at Bill Sadowski Park in Palmetto Bay at 8 p.m. Saturday evenings, weather permitting. Late evening, Hercules leads Vega higher in the northeast. By midnight, the bright moon shines above huge Scorpius low in the southeast.
In the predawn the waning moon floats above the Sagittarian Teapot in the south. The Scorpion crawls toward the southwest. Bright Antares (red supergiant) known as the red heart beats in the Scorpion's torso. Saturn lies above Spica in the west. Vega, in Lyra the Harp, leads the vast Summer Triangle overhead. Cygnus, Swan, soars within the Triangle. The Summer Milky Way (River of Stars) arches from the Teapot to the Triangle, visible from rural areas. Pegasus, Winged Horse, appears in the east. The Big Dipper swings low in the northwest. Arcturus sparkles in the northwest.
After sunset brilliant Venus makes her debut on the northwestern horizon and sets by nightfall. Three evening planets visible: Venus and Jupiter in the northwest; Saturn in the southeast.
At dusk, aim binoculars and cameras to capture Venus 5 degrees below the Seven Sisters descending toward the northwestern horizon. They set early. About midnight, early Eta Aquarid meteors may be visible from the southeast.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org