In the evening dusk, the crescent moon floats in the west between bright Jupiter (right) and Procyon, Little Dog (left). Aim binoculars to dark earthshine on the lunar surface. Mercury (first rock from the sun) appears 5 degrees directly below the Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) near the west-northwestern horizon. Due to its closest orbit around our scorching sun, Mercury maintains a low altitude near the horizon.
Aldebaran twinkles in the V-shaped Hyades cluster in Taurus, Bull to the upper left of the Pleiades. The dim Beehive cluster shimmers near Jupiter. Capella steers Auriga, Charioteer, lower in the northwest. Orion, Hunter, leans over the western horizon, taking aim at Taurus, Bull escaping below the horizon. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southwest, trailed by the Pups. They set by mid-evening.
Leo, Lion, crawls overhead. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star. The tip of the handle of the Little Dipper is Polaris. Ruddy Arcturus, Herdsman, rises in the east and forms an isosceles triangle with bright Mars and the star Spica, in Virgo. Corvus, Crow, flies across the southeast.
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The star cluster Omega Centauri shimmers low in the southeast. Silver Saturn brightens in the southeast, in Libra, soon after 10 p.m. Before midnight, huge Scorpius peers over the southeastern horizon. Antares, (a red supergiant hundreds of times larger than our sun) is the heart in the Scorpion’s torso. Hercules leads Vega and the vast Summer Triangle above the northeastern horizon.
The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower (remnants from Comet Halley) produces low altitude “earthgrazers” radiating from Aquarius in the southeastern predawn. About 30 meteors per/hour may be visible after 1:30 a.m. moonset.
First quarter moon occurs 11:15 p.m.
About midnight Jupiter sets in the northwest. The Gemini Twins stand on the northwestern horizon. By 6 a.m. bright Mars descends to 4 degrees above the western horizon. Arcturus sparkles in the west. The Big Dipper swings low in the northwest. Saturn leads Scorpius into the southwest. The Sagittarian Teapot (center of our Milky Way Galaxy) shimmers in the south. At dawn, brilliant Venus glows in Pisces, Fish near Neptune low in the southeast.
Tonight silver Saturn rises in the southeast opposite the setting sun and sets in the west at dawn. Saturn will be brightest and closest to Earth during May. Mars glows 6 degrees above the bright moon in the east.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org