Southern Cross Stargazer for April 6-12, 2014



By nightfall the moon floats 6 degrees from bright Jupiter in Gemini. Aim binoculars to the straight side of the moon where tops of craters poke out in sunlight from the lunar shadow line.

The dim Beehive star cluster shimmers below the Gemini Twins. Mars rises in the east about 9 p.m. Mars resembles a glowing ember 7 degrees from Spica, both in Virgo, Springmaiden. Corvus, Crow flies higher in the southeast. Silver Saturn appears in the southeast in Libra around 10:30 p.m.

Orion, the Hunter, chases Taurus onto the western horizon. The Great Orion Nebula glows from Orion’s sword. Sirius, a nearby star, is the brilliant blue eye sparkling in Orion’s Big Dog in the south-southwest. The Pups trail across the south. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion.

The Pleiades cluster shimmers low in the west. Aldebaran twinkles from the Hyades cluster in Taurus. Winter constellations set by mid-evening. Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, lower in the northwest. Leo crawls overhead. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. The tip of the Little Dipper’s handle is Polaris. Bright Arcturus, Herdsman, sparkles in the northeast.


First quarter moon occurs 4:31 a.m.


Bright Mars rises in the east in the early evening opposite the sun. The warrior planet becomes brightest and largest tonight and continues all month. Superb views in telescopes/cameras. The narrow white carbon dioxide ice cap is shrinking during the Martian early summer. Subtle dark markings, canyons and cliffs on the rust-colored Martian desert, and the narrow ice cap, are visible in strong telescopes.

Mars will make its closest pass by Earth next week.


By 4 a.m., Venus, the Morning Star, glows 0.7 degrees from dim blue Neptune in the southeast. Saturn leads huge Scorpius across the south. Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion torso. The Sagittarius Teapot rises higher in the southeast. Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle higher in the northeast. Cygnus soars within the Triangle. Arcturus sparkles in the west. The Big Dipper drifts into the northwest. Jupiter has set.

•  MarsWatch at 8 p.m. at Bill Sadowski Park & Nature Center, Southwest 176th Street at 79th Avenue, half a mile west of Old Cutler Road in Palmetto Bay. Bring chairs, snacks, binoculars, bug repellant. NO lights, litter, pets. Information: 305-661-1375

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

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