By 6:30 p.m., dim Mars floats in the southwest, between the Teaspoon (above) and the curved handle of the tilted Sagittarian Teapot (below Mars). They set early. Dim blue Neptune sails high across the southwest in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Blue-green Uranus floats across the southeast in Pisces, the Fish.
Grus, the Crane, stretches its starry neck above the southwestern horizon. Phoenix spreads its wings along the southern horizon. Capricornus, the Sea Goat, follows the Teapot in the southwest. Cetus, the Whale, swims across the southeast. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, overhead. Bright Vega, in Lyra the Harp, leads the vast Summer Triangle into the northwest. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle and becomes the Northern Cross.
The Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia (M-shaped constellation) daughter Andromeda and Perseus, Hero. Capella guides Auriga, ancient Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star 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).
Mid-evening, gigantic Orion, the Hunter, lies horizontal in the east. Late evening, brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in the southeast, in Orion’s Big Dog. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion.
Monday and Tuesday
After midnight, bright Jupiter escorts Leo, the Lion, higher in the east. From midnight to dawn (5:30 a.m.) the annual Leonid Meteor Shower reaches max activity, 20 per hour, radiating from the Lion. The Leonids zip into our atmosphere at 44 miles per second, leaving colorful trains, as Earth cruises through the dust tail of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Some fireballs may occur. A few Leonids may be visible all week. Moonlight from the old moon will not interfere. Optical equipment is not needed. Observe safely from a lounge chair at home.
At dawn the old moon rises in the southeast 2 degrees above Spica, in Virgo. Mercury slips onto the southeastern horizon. Corvus flies higher in the southeast. Jupiter and Leo drift overhead. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. The Beehive star cluster follows the Gemini Twins westward. The Royal Family settles low in the northwest. Capella leads Auriga toward the northwest. Orion strides across the southwest followed by brilliant blue Sirius in the Big Dog and the Pups in the south. Canopus glistens low in the south.
Popular NASA speaker Russell Romanella will discuss the future of space exploration at a free astronomy program at 8 p.m. at the FIU Physics Building, CP-145 lecture hall, Modesto Maidique campus. Park in the campus garage, faculty/visitors slots, Southwest 109th Avenue at Eighth Street. Follow the SCAS signs to CP-145.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org