New moon occurs at 7:50 a.m. After sunset Venus, Goddess of the Night, reaches her highest altitude 47 degrees above the setting sun in the southwest. Her southernmost location, in Sagittarius, will not occur again until November 2021. Her dazzling brilliance almost "sings" against the dark velvet sky. Venus sets by mid-evening. Huge Scorpius crawls into the west-southwest. Capricornus, Sea Goat, wanders into the southwest. Dim blue Neptune sails high across the south in Aquarius. The star Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Blue-green Uranus, in Pisces, Fish, follows Neptune two hours later. Grus, Crane, stretches its starry neck above the southern horizon. Cetus, Whale, swims along the southeastern horizon. The variable star Mira appears bright, off and on, in the Whale’s torso. Aries, Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, to the Zenith.
Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle into the northwest. Cygnus, Swan, becomes the Northern Cross. Mid-evening the Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, daughter Andromeda and Perseus, Hero. Aim binoculars & telescopes to our nearest galaxy, Andromeda, in the northeast. Blazing winter stars arrive in the east: bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, across 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). Late evening gigantic Orion, Hunter, reclines on the eastern horizon. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant blue Sirius, a nearby star, sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog low in the southeast. Late evening, the Gemini Twins appear in the northeast. Bright Jupiter glows below the Twins near the Beehive cluster.
By nightfall the young moon rides huge Scorpius along the southwestern horizon. Fiery Antares, red supergiant, beats in the Scorpion’s torso left of the moon. They set early.
Tonight Venus glows from the spout of the tilted Sagittarian Teapot in the southwest. Aim binoculars to the crescent moon with dark Earthshine 8 degrees above Venus.
Mars rises in the east about 2 a.m. In the predawn Leo, Lion, climbs higher in the east. Ruddy Mars brightens to the right of the star Denebola, Lion’s tail. Comet Ison cruises downward 9 degrees lower right of the Lion’s tail. The Big Dipper rises in the northeast. The bowl faces Polaris, North Star. Capella leads the Charioteer into the northwest. The Royal Family swings into the northwest. Corvus, Crow flies higher in the southeast ahead of Spica, in Virgo. Mercury appears 8 degrees below Spica. Bright Jupiter glows overhead near the Gemini Twins and the Beehive cluster. The Pleiades and Hyades star clusters drift into the northwest. Orion strides into the west. Sirius sparkles in the Big Dog trotting across the south. Brilliant Canopus lies in the ancient ship Argo low in the south.
Special program: Star Party takes place from dusk to 11 p.m. Saturday at new SCAS Redlands Observatory, 23325 SW 217th Ave., Homestead 33031 www.scas.org/locations
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org