Southern Cross Stargazer for Aug. 17-23, 2014

08/16/2014 12:00 AM

08/17/2014 11:04 PM

Sunday

Last Quarter Moon occurs 8:26 a.m.

By nightfall (8:30 p.m.) eastbound Mars fades as it approaches westbound Saturn, both in Libra in the southwest. They set about 11 p.m. Telescopes reveal the subtle pastel bands on Saturn, white patches of storms in its polar region, the dark Cassini Division (dark narrow space between the sunlit icy rings), and Titan, largest satellite moon.

Spica twinkles in Virgo low in the southwest. Huge Scorpius crawls across the south, closely followed by the Sagittarian Teapot (center of our Milky Way Galaxy). Capricornus, the Sea Goat, wanders toward the south. Mid-evening, dim blue Neptune sails high across the southeast above Fomalhaut in Aquarius. Pegasus, the Winged Horse, rises higher in the east. The Royal Family arrives in the northeast. Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle overhead.

Near Vega, the nebula M-57 resembles a small smoke ring surrounding a tiny white dwarf star, visible in telescopes. Cygnus, the Swan soars within the Triangle. The eye of the Swan is a colorful double star. The Summer Milky Way (River of Stars) arches from the Teapot to the Triangle. Ruddy Arcturus, Herdsman, a red giant star, sparkles in the west. The Big Dipper swings across the northwest. By 11 p.m. blue-green Uranus rises in the southeast in Pisces, the Fish.

Monday

Brilliant Venus rises about 4:30 a.m. in the east-northeast. A few remaining Perseid Meteors may be seen. By 6 a.m. a rare planetary conjunction occurs. Jupiter, King of the Planets rises to dance 1/2 degree with Venus, Morning “Star.” Superb photos! Still visible Tuesday. The next Jupiter-Venus rendezvous will occur in the evening June 30, 2015.

Gemini Twins drift above them. The Beehive cluster in Cancer shimmers 1 degree left of Venus. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The Royal Family reigns in the north.

The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, Bull higher in the east. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face).

The waning crescent moon floats above Aldebaran. Gigantic Orion, Hunter, climbs higher in the east. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog low in the southeast. Vega leads the Summer Triangle lower in the northwest.

Friday

Before dawn, the old crescent moon leads Jupiter and Venus above the east-northeast horizon.

Saturday

Before sunrise the moon forms a triangle with rising Jupiter and descending Venus near the horizon. Stunning views in binoculars/camera.

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

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