By nightfall, aim binoculars to brilliant Venus high in the southwest. Our closest planet glows 5 degrees above ruddy Antares, red heart in huge Scorpius. Antares, a red supergiant, is hundreds of times larger than our sun. The tilted Sagittarian Teapot pours onto the Scorpion's stinger tail. Silver Saturn and brighter Mercury descend into the sunset's glare in the west. Capricornus, Sea Goat, wanders across the southwest. Blue-green Uranus, in Pisces the Fish, follows dim Neptune in Aquarius across the south. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Grus, Crane, stretches its starry neck above the southern horizon. Cetus, Whale, swims above the southeastern horizon. Aries, Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, toward the Zenith. Vega, in Lyra the Harp, leads the Summer Triangle west of Zenith. Cygnus, Swan soars within the Triangle. As they drift lower in the northwest, the Swan becomes the Northern Cross.
Bright Arcturus, Herdsman, sparkles low in the west The Big Dipper lies on the north-northwestern horizon. The Big Dipper pivots around Polaris, North Star, and rises in the northeast before dawn. Mid-evening, the Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, daughter Andromeda and Perseus, Hero. Bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, Bull above the eastern horizon. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull's red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull's face) in the east. Bright Jupiter rises in the east about 11 p.m. left of the Gemini Twins. The dim Beehive cluster follows the Twins. Orion, Hunter, reclines on the eastern horizon around midnight.
The fast and bright annual Orionid Meteors may be visible radiating from Orion, midnight to dawn, Monday and Tuesday. Earth passes through glittering dust tail from long-gone Comet Halley. The bright waning moon may reduce the hourly meteor count.
Tonight the moon floats near the Pleiades and Hyades clusters.
By 6 a.m. Jupiter and the Gemini Twins lie overhead. The waning moon drifts near the Beehive star cluster below the Gemini Twins. Capella leads the Charioteer across the north. The Royal Family swings into the northwest. The Pleiades and Hyades clusters lie west of Zenith. Orion strides across the south followed by Procyon, Little Dog. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion's Big Dog in the south. Canopus radiates rainbow colors low in the south from the ancient ship Argo. Leo, Lion, climbs higher in the east. Mars lies near Regulus in Leo. Two dim comets cruise across the northeast: Encke above the Gemini Twins; Ison races downward near the back of the Lion toward its close pass by the sun next month.
Last quarter moon occurs at 7:40 p.m. The waning moon rises after midnight.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org