By nightfall ruddy Mars and silver Saturn drift close in the southwest. Mars lies between Spica (right) in Virgo and Saturn (left) in Libra. Leo, the Lion, ambles onto the western horizon. Huge Scorpius crawls across the south. Bright Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion's torso. The Sagittarian Teapot closely follows Scorpius. The stellar Teaspoon glistens above the left handle of the Teapot. The two major southern constellations lie in the center of our Milky Way Galaxy among a myriad of nebulas, star clusters and galaxies.
Aim optical equipment on a clear evening to enjoy the spectacular views. Capricornus, the Sea Goat, wanders across the southeast. Pegasus, the Winged Horse, climbs over the eastern horizon. Westbound Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle overhead. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle.
The Summer Milky Way (River of Stars) arches from the Teapot to the Triangle — visible from a dark, rural site.
The Royal Family arrives in the northeast: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda with our closest galaxy and Perseus. Bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles in the west followed by the stellar necklace Corona Borealis. The Big Dipper swings low in the northwest. About 10:30 p.m., dim Neptune sails across the southeast in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Late evening, blue-green Uranus rises in the southeast in Pisces, the Fish.
From midnight to dawn the South Delta Aquarid Meteors may be visible radiating 15 per/hour from Aquarius in the south. Fomalhaut lies in the south-southwest below Neptune. At dusk, a sliver of a young crescent moon floats left of the star Regulus in the Lion near the western horizon.
By nightfall, aim binoculars to the southwest and the young moon with dark Earthshine. The moon anchors a celestial line up with Mars between Spica (right) in Virgo, and Saturn (left) in Libra.
By 6:15 a.m. bright Jupiter emerges on the east-northeastern horizon and meets descending Mercury 1 degree apart. The two planets are directly below the Gemini Twins: Castor and Pollux. Brilliant Venus glows left of the Twins.
Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The delicate Seven sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, higher in the east-northeast. Aldebaran (the Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (the Bull’s face). The Royal Family reigns in the north. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus to the Zenith. Orion, the Hunter, reclines on the eastern horizon.
Uranus follows Neptune across the southwest. Vega leads the Swan in the Summer Triangle lower in the northwest.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org