Southern Cross Stargazer for Aug. 10-16, 2014

08/09/2014 12:00 AM

08/07/2014 2:30 PM

Sunday

The Fruit Moon is full at 2:09 p.m. The second SuperMoon of the year will be closest this year when it glides by Earth 221,765 miles distant at 1:43 p.m. The moon appears larger than normal when it rises at dusk in the southeast. If skies are overcast, the last SuperMoon occurs Sept. 8. The crust on the far side of the moon is much thicker with a blanket of craters. Binoculars reveal dark areas on the visible side of the moon are huge basins filled with frozen lava.

Huge Scorpius crawls across the south closely followed by the Sagittarian Teapot and stellar Teaspoon. Antares, red supergiant, is the heart of the Scorpion. Eastbound Mars drifts into Libra where Saturn resides to the right of Scorpius. The planets set in the west late evening. Capricornus, Sea Goat, wanders toward the south. Dim blue Neptune sails above Fomalhaut in the southeast in Aquarius. Pegasus, Winged Horse, lifts higher in the east. 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 arches from the Teapot to the Triangle. Bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles in the west. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest. Mid-evening, the Royal Family arrives in the northeast: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda and Perseus, Hero.

Some Perseid Meteors may be visible in the predawn all week, but bright moonlight will interfere.

Wednesday

The peak of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower will occur in the predawn. As the Earth orbits the sun, it travels through dust tails of earlier comets, tiny cosmic particles that zip into our atmosphere at supersonic speed and burn up into colorful celestial fireworks. Dozens of Perseids, remnants from Comet Swift-Tuttle, radiate from the constellation Perseus rising in the northeast about 1:30 a.m. Best views of meteors showers are seen from a dark rural site, offshore or from your property. Optical equipment is not needed.

By 6 a.m. bright Jupiter rises above the east-northeastern horizon 5 degrees below Venus, the brilliant Morning Star. The will dance together next week. The Gemini Twins glide above the two planets. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, higher in the east. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). The Royal Family reigns in the north. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus overhead. Procyon, Little Dog, snoozes on the eastern horizon. Orion, the Hunter, climbs higher in the east. Brilliant Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog low in the southeast to herald the Dog Days of Summer. Vega leads the Summer Triangle low in the northwest.

Thursday

Tonight, the bright waning moon floats near Uranus.

Saturday

By 6 a.m. Jupiter and Venus are 2 degrees apart low in the east-northeast.

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

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