Southern Cross Stargazer for Feb. 2-8, 2014



This evening three planets are visible. At dusk, aim binoculars to Mercury near the west-southwestern horizon. Above Mercury the young sunlit crescent moon will reveal craters and valleys next to dark earthshine on the lunar surface.

Bright golden Jupiter, surrounded by its four closest satellite moons, glows in the east, to the right of the Gemini Twins Castor and Pollux. The Seven Sisters lead Taurus, Bull westward. Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face).

In the east, Procyon, Little Dog, follows gigantic Orion, Hunter aiming at the Bull. The Great Orion Nebula contains newborn stars in Orion’s sword. Brilliant blue Sirius (nearby star) sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast.

Telescopes can track the outer planets — blue-green Uranus following dim Neptune across the southwest. Cetus, Whale swims onto the southwestern horizon. Aries, Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, lower in the west.

The Royal Family swings low in the northwest. By 10 p.m. the Big Dipper rises in the northeast. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star. The Little Dipper’s handle is Polaris, and not visible above bright city lights. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, across the north. Leo, Lion crawls higher in the east.

Before midnight, bright Arcturus, Herdsman, sparkles in the east-northeast, beyond the Big Dipper’s handle. Ruddy Mars rises in the east above Spica in Virgo. Orion’s Big Dog trots across the south trailed by the Pups.


Jupiter sets in the northwest by 5:15 a.m. Mars brightens 5 degrees above Spica high in the south. Silver Saturn rises in the southeast, in Libra, about 1:30 a.m. Brilliant Venus, Morning Star, is a beacon rising in the southeast in morning twilight. The top of the Sagittarian Teapot emerges above the southeastern horizon.

Huge Scorpius crawls higher in the southeast. Ruddy Antares is the red heart beating in the Scorpion’s torso. Vega, in Lyra the Harp, twinkles in the northeast.The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Arcturus lies overhead. The Lion crawls westward.

At dusk, the young moon floats 3 degrees above Uranus in the southwest.


First quarter moon occurs 2:22 p.m. Tonight the moon floats below the Seven Sisters cluster.


•  Event: Southern Cross Astros will hold a First Quarter Moon Star Party, 7-10 p.m., Fruit & Spice Park, 24801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead. Free Family Night includes campfire, pet a fluffy white Arctic wolf, tram rides through the Park. SCAS hi-tech equipment will show dazzling winter skies from the park’s very dark outback. 305-247-5727.

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

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

  • What do you recommend?

    “The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton — it’s a book built around characters and plots inspired by astrological principles. It’s a neo-Victorian murder mystery and a mere 832 pages long, and it made 28-year-old Catton the youngest person to win the coveted Man Booker Prize. The voice is natural, easy to understand and ambitious; she’s a novelist who is seeking to reclaim the authorial, a writer who seeks to entertain and enlighten.”

 <span class="cutline_leadin">The Boom:</span> How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World. Russell Gold. Simon & Schuster. 384 pages. $26.


    Book considers the pros and cons of fracking

    Author considers both sides of the controversial issue.

  • Southern Cross Stargazer for April 20-26

    By nightfall Spica follows fiery Mars, in Virgo, higher in the east. Telescopes reveal the white ice cap shrinking in the Martian summer and subtle dark details on the iron-rich red Martian desert. Binoculars enhance the planet’s bright color. Mars sets in the west about dawn and will remain bright for a few weeks.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category