Southern Cross Stargazer for Aug. 11-17, 2013

 

Sunday

In the evening dusk, brilliant Venus, encased in sunlit clouds, reigns in the west. Leo, Lion crawls onto the western horizon to the right of Venus. The young moon floats in the southwest between Spica, in Virgo and Corvus, Crow on the southwestern horizon. Silver Saturn drifts eastward above Spica. They set in the west late evening.

The stars of Libra twinkle left of Saturn. Huge Scorpius crawls across the south. Bright Antares, a red supergiant, is the red heart in the Scorpion’s torso. The Sagittarian Teapot closely follows Scorpius. Capricornus, Sea Goat, climbs higher in the southeast. Westbound Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the Summer Triangle to the Zenith. Cygnus, Swan soars within the Triangle.

The Summer Milky Way arches from the Teapot to the Triangle, visible from a dark rural site. Corona Borealis, a stellar necklace, follows bright Arcturus, Herdsman, toward the northwest. The Big Dipper swings across the northwest. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star that marks the tip of the Little Dipper’s handle. Mid-evening, Pegasus, Winged Horse, rises in the east.

Dim blue Neptune, discovered in 1846, appears in the southeast in Aquarius. Light from our farthest planet takes four hours to reach Earth. Late evening, blue-green Uranus rises in the southeast in Pisces, Fish. Uranus was discovered in 1781. The Royal Family arrives in the northeast.

Sunday-Tuesday

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower, glittering debris from long-gone Comet Swift-Tuttle, reaches max activity late Sunday evening to dawn Monday and again until dawn Tuesday. After the 10 p.m. moonset, early Perseids may be visible radiating from the northeast ahead of the constellation Perseus that rises about midnight. From a dark sky site, 50 or more Perseids per hour zip across the sky, including a few fireballs, at 37 miles per second. Equipment: lounge chair and bug spray. Some Perseids may linger all week.

Tuesday

First quarter moon occurs at 6:56 a.m.

Wednesday

Tonight the moon leads Scorpius across the south.

Thursday

Three planets align in the east. Bright Jupiter rises by 3 a.m. Dim Mars appears below Jupiter before dawn. Both planets are in Gemini. Mercury descends toward the northeastern horizon. Brilliant winter stars cover the eastern sky. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) shimmer overhead. In Taurus, Bull, ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) below the Pleiades. Orion, the Hunter, reclines in the east. The Gemini Twins climb higher in the northeast. Bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, toward the north. Pegasus lies overhead. The Royal Family reigns in the north. Uranus follows Neptune across the southwest.

Saturday

By nightfall the bright moon floats above the Sagittarian Teapot in the south.

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

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