July 19, 2014

Southern Cross Stargazer for July 20-26, 2014

By nightfall, look high in the southwest where Mars drifts eastward 4degrees away from the star Spica. Both are in Virgo.


By nightfall, look high in the southwest where Mars drifts eastward 4 degrees away from the star Spica. Both are in Virgo.

Corvus, the Crow, lands on the southwestern horizon. Leo, the Lion, butts the western horizon. Silver Saturn floats toward the southwest in Libra. Huge Scorpius crawls across the southeast. The major summer constellation resembles the letter S. Bright Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion’s torso. The Sagittarian Teapot closely follows Scorpius. The stellar Teaspoon lies above the left handle of the Teapot.

When skies are clear, aim binoculars to the south for the views of star clusters, deep-sky nebulas shimmering in the dense center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Capricornus, the Sea Goat, climbs above the southeastern horizon. Pegasus, the Winged Horse, lifts higher in the east. Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the great Summer Triangle toward the Zenith. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle.

The Summer Milky Way arches from the Teapot to the Triangle, visible from a dark rural site. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest. Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles in the west beyond the Big Dipper’s handle. Aim binoculars at the Corona Borealis, the twinkling necklace overhead. At mid-evening, the Royal Family arrives in the northeast: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda with our closest galaxy and Perseus. In the late evening, dim Neptune appears in the southeast in Aquarius. Fomalhaut lies below Neptune. About midnight, blue-green Uranus rises in the east in Pisces, the Fish.


By 6 a.m. Aries, the Ram chases Pegasus to the Zenith. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, higher in the east-northeast. The waning crescent moon nudges Aldebaran (red Bull’s eye) in the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). Superb views in binoculars and cameras.

Brilliant Venus, the Morning Star, glows above Mercury. Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The Royal Family reigns in the north. The Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, appear on the northeastern horizon. Orion, the Hunter, awakens on the eastern horizon. Vega leads the Summer Triangle into the northwest Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune in the southwest. Uranus drifts across the south.


A celestial lineup forms across the southwest. Mars lies between Spica (right) and Saturn (left).


By dawn the crescent moon rises 5 degrees to the right of brilliant Venus. Mercury glistens below Venus.


The old moon appears at 6 p.m. about 5 degrees lower right from Mercury. The “first rock from the sun” brightens on its descent toward the east-northeastern horizon.


New Moon occurs at 6:42 p.m. and is not visible due its very close proximity to the sun. Aim binoculars to the young moon with dark Earthshine low in the west next week.

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

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