Southern Cross Stargazer for May 5-11, 2013

 

Sunday

At dusk, for the final good views, aim binoculars to the delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) descending onto the west-northwestern horizon — lower right of Jupiter. Brilliant Venus shines 4 degrees below the star cluster and rises higher each week to become our summer Evening Star. Jupiter glows in the west, in Taurus the Bull. The four closest Galilean moons dance around the huge planet, casting shadows on its banded surface. They set about 11 p.m. Aldebaran, the Bull's red eye, winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull's face) below Jupiter. By nightfall, Orion, Hunter, strides toward the western horizon, in perpetual pursuit of the Bull. His sword holds the Great Orion Nebula (a stellar nursery trillions of miles in diameter). Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant blue Sirius, a nearby star, sparkles in Orion's Big Dog in the southwest, trailed by the Pups in the south. The dim Beehive star cluster follows the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, into the northwest.

Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, lower in the northwest. Leo, Lion, crawls westward. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Its bowl “pours” onto the Little Dipper. The tip of the Little Dipper’s handle is Polaris, North Star. Bright Arcturus (red giant hundreds of times larger than our sun) twinkles in the east, beyond the Big Dipper’s handle. Kit-shaped Corvus, Crow flies across the southeast, followed by Spica in Virgo. Omega Centauri, dense star cluster, shimmers low in the south. Silver Saturn rises higher in the southeast, in Libra, encased by sunlit icy rings. Saturn will be brightest and closest to Earth during the month. Late evening, Hercules brings Vega, in Lyra the Harp, higher in the northeast. Around 11 p.m., huge Scorpius peers over the southeastern horizon.

Monday

In the predawn, the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower will radiate from Aquarius in the southeast. The Earth cruises through the tails of long-gone Comet Halley. Tiny fragments race into our atmosphere and ignite into colorful meteors. About 50 meteors per hour may be visible from a rural site after 3 a.m.

Thursday

New moon occurs at 8:28 p.m.

Friday

Neptune rises in by 3 a.m. in Aquarius in the southeast. Blue-green Uranus appears in the southeast by 4 a.m. in Pisces.

Around 5:30 a.m. Hercules leads Vega and the vast Summer Triangle overhead. Cygnus, Swan, soars within the Triangle. Pegasus rises higher in the east. Capricornus, Sea Goat, wanders across the southeast. The Sagittarian Teapot shimmers in the south. Huge Scorpius crawls along the southwestern horizon. Saturn sets in the west by dawn.

At dusk, aim binoculars to the very young moon 1 degree below Venus on the northwestern horizon.

Saturday

At dusk, binoculars/cameras may capture a crescent moon with dark Earthshine between Venus and Jupiter in the northwest

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

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