Southern Cross Stargazer for Jan. 12-18, 2014

 

Sunday

Bright Jupiter dominates the evening sky and rises in the east-northeast before 7 p.m. at the right of the Gemini Twins. Telescopes reveal the four closest satellite moons dancing around Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Outer planet Uranus sails across the southwest in Pisces, Fish. Dim Neptune hugs the southwestern horizon.

The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) shimmer overhead in a blue mist, often mistaken for the Little Dipper. They lead Taurus, Bull to the Zenith. The Pleiades contain at least 500 new stars, 70 million years old, about 400 light years from Earth. The bright stars in the cluster represent the seven daughters of Atlas. Many primitive cultures relied on the appearance of the Pleiades as a farming calendar. Red giant Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) below the Pleiades.

Bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, toward the north. Orion, Hunter, strides higher in the east, followed by Procyon, Little Dog. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in the southeast in Orion’s Big Dog. Aries, Ram chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, westward. The Royal Family swings into the northwest. Late evening Leo, Lion climbs higher in the east. The Big Dipper appears in the northeast. Before midnight, ruddy Mars rises in the east in Virgo.

Monday

Aim telescopes to volcanic Io, Jupiter’s closest moon, crossing the huge planet from 6:22 p.m. to 8:38 p.m. followed by its shadow (a black dot) from 6:35 p.m. to 8:50 p.m.

Wednesday

The frost moon is full at 11:52 p.m. The moon rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west at dawn.

Friday

By 6 a.m. brilliant Venus, Morning Star, rises in the east in Sagittarius. Huge Scorpius crawls higher in the southeast. Bright Antares, red heart, beats in the Scorpion’s torso. Silver Saturn lies in Libra in the south. Mars glows overhead in Virgo. The Lion crawls westward. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Bright Arcturus, Herdsman, sparkles in the east. Jupiter descends into the northwest.

•  Southern Cross free public program: “Save Our Vanishing Night Sky” with speaker Diana Umpierre, International Dark Sky Association officer, Pembroke Pines. A Cornell University geology graduate, and environmental scientist, she works with Broward government entities, provides information to prevent intense light trespass to wildlife and residents. 8 p.m., FIU Physics Building, CP-145, main campus. Park in the campus garage west side of Southwest 109th Avenue and Eighth Street. 305-661-1375

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

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