Southern Cross Stargazer



By 6 a.m. aim binoculars to the old moon beside the trio of planets aligned in Gemini low in the east-northeast. The Twins, Castor and Pollux, twinkle left of the planets. Bright Jupiter leads the parade glowing 22 degrees above the horizon; dim ruddy Mars lies 7 degrees below Jupiter; and Mercury rises 10 degrees below Mars. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) lead Taurus, Bull higher in the east. Aldebaran (Bull's red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster in Taurus. Gigantic Orion, Hunter, snoozes on the eastern horizon. Aries, Ram chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, across the Zenith. Bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The Royal Family: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, daughter Andromeda and Perseus, Hero, reign in the north. Blue-green Uranus, in Pisces the Fish, follows dim blue Neptune in Aquarius low in the southwest.


As dawn breaks, a celestial V forms near the east-northeast horizon. Bright Jupiter at the top, the Gemini Twins left of Mars, the crescent thin moon rises 4 degrees below Mercury at the nadir near the horizon. They fade quickly against the brightening sky.


New moon occurs 5:51 p.m.


By nightfall the young crescent moon floats 6 degrees below brilliant Venus, Evening Star, in the west. Leo, Lion, crawls onto the western horizon to the right of Venus. Bright Arcturus, Herdsman, sparkles in the west beyond the Big Dipper's handle. Corona Borealis, stellar necklace, shimmers west of Zenith. Corvus, Crow, lands on the southwestern horizon. Silver Saturn lies in the southwest left of Spica. Both are in Virgo and set by midnight.

The stars of Libra twinkle in the southwest. Huge Scorpius crawls across south closely followed by the Sagittarian Teapot (center of our Milky Way Galaxy). Binoculars reveal a myriad of nebulas, star clusters, etc. in the dense center of our galaxy. Capricornus, Sea Goat, wanders across the southeast. Mid-evening, dim Neptune rises in the southeast in Aquarius. Pegasus, Winged Horse, appears in the east. Overhead Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle across the Zenith. Cygnus, Swan, soars within the Triangle. The Summer Milky Way arches from the Teapot to the Triangle. Late evening blue-green Uranus rises in the southeast in Pisces, Fish. The Royal Family arrives in the northeast.


Early evening aim binoculars to the sunlit crescent moon left of Venus. The dark portion of the lunar surface is Earthshine. Around midnight, early Perseid meteors may radiate from the northeast, prior to their annual shower next week.

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

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