At dusk, the dim Beehive cluster of 200 stars in Cancer the Crab shimmers near westbound bright Jupiter and the Gemini Twins: Castor and Pollux. The four-closest moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) dance around Jupiter. Leo, the Lion, crawls across the Zenith.
The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Binoculars will reveal a double star in the curve of the Dipper’s handle. The bowl always faces Polaris, the North Star. The tip of the Little Dipper’s handle is Polaris. Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, across the northwest. Bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, rises in the northeast. Fiery Mars glows like an ember in the east above the star Spica. Mars and Spica lie in Virgo. Corvus, the Crow, flies higher in the southeast. The Pups trot across the south behind Orion’s Big Dog in the southwest. Brilliant Sirius sparkles in the Big Dog. Procyon, the Little Dog, follows Orion, the Hunter, in the southwest taking aim at Taurus, the Bull, low in the west. Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull's face). The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) dance on the west-northwestern horizon.
Brilliant winter stars will soon exit the night skies. By 10:30 p.m. silver Saturn rises in the southeast, in Libra. Huge Scorpius peers over the southeastern horizon before midnight.
New Moon occurs at 2:14 a.m. In evening twilight aim binoculars to the sliver of a crescent moon directly below the Pleiades.
By nightfall, aim optical equipment to the slim crescent moon with dark Earthshine near the Pleiades cluster, low in the west-northwest. They set early.
Before 6 a.m. westbound Hercules leads bright Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle overhead. The Big Dipper swings low in the northwest. Arcturus sparkles in the west. Bright Mars and Spica lie low in the west. Saturn leads Scorpius into the southwest. Antares, the red heart, beats in the Scorpion’s torso. The Sagittarian Teapot drifts into the south. Brilliant Venus, the Morning Star, shines low in the southeast near dim Neptune in Aquarius. Pegasus, the Winged Horse, rises in the east.
Weather permitting, the Southern Cross Astros will hold an open house from dusk to 11 p.m. at the D’Auria Observatory, 23325 SW 217th Ave. High-tech equipment will focus on Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and more.
The MarsWatch is scheduled for 8 to 10:30 p.m. at Bill Sadowski Park, on Southwest 176th Street a half-mile west of Old Cutler Road, Palmetto Bay. No lights, litter, pets at either site. 305-661-1375.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org