Southern Cross Stargazer for Aug. 18-24, 2013



After sunset, brilliant Venus, Evening Star, glows about 25 degrees above the western horizon. Wrapped in sunlit clouds, our nearest planet resembles a diamond brooch against sheer pastel-colored fabric. Venus sets about 9:30 p.m. Silver Saturn cruises eastward away from the star Spica in the southwest. Saturn sets in the west about 11:30 p.m. Corvus, Crow, lands on the southwestern horizon. The stars of Libra twinkle in the southwest. Huge Scorpius creeps into the southwest. Ruddy Antares, a supergiant hundreds of times larger than our sun, is the red heart beating in the Scorpion’s torso. The Sagittarian Teapot, center of our Milky Way Galaxy, closely follows Scorpius across the south. Aim binoculars to view the deep-sky objects shimmering in the south.

Pluto hides above the Teapot. Large telescopes are needed to locate it on the edge of our solar system. Capricornus, Sea Goat, wanders higher in the southeast. Westbound Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra, Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle to the Zenith. The Summer Milky Way (River of Stars) arches from the Teapot to the Triangle, visible from a dark, rural site. Corona Borealis, a stellar necklace, twinkles west of Zenith between Hercules and bright Arcturus, Herdsman. Arcturus, a red giant star, sparkles beyond the Big Dipper’s handle in the northwest. The tip of the Little Dipper’s handle is Polaris, North Star. Mid-evening, Pegasus, Winged Horse, lifts above the eastern horizon. Dim blue Neptune rises in the southeast in Aquarius. Before midnight, blue-green Uranus appears in the southeast in Pisces, Fish. The Royal Family arrives in the northeast.


The Fruit Moon is full at 9:45 p.m. in Capricornus in the southeast.


Tonight the bright moon floats near Neptune in the south.


By 3 a.m. the delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) shimmer near the Zenith. Taurus, Bull, is close behind with Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winking from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). By 6 a.m. gigantic Orion, Hunter, reclines low in the east. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant blue Sirius, sparkles on the southeastern horizon, in Orion’s Big Dog to herald the “dog days” of summer. Aries, Ram, chases Pegasus west of zenith. The Gemini Twins climb higher in the northeast. Bright Jupiter, followed 30 minutes later by dim Mars, drifts across the feet of the Twins in the east. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, toward the north. The Royal Family reigns in the north: Queen Cassiopeia, King Cepheus, Andromeda and Perseus, Hero. Vega leads the Summer Triangle onto the northwestern horizon.

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

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