Six planets grace the evening sky. At dusk brilliant Venus, the Evening Star, glows about 12 degrees above the southwestern horizon. Descending Mercury hugs the southwestern horizon, lower right of Venus. They set early in Capricornus. By nightfall, Mars is visible in Aquarius 10 degrees above Venus. Dim Neptune sails lower in the southwest in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Blue-green Uranus floats high across the southwest in Pisces, the Fish, and sets around 11 p.m.
Cetus, the Whale, swims across the southwest. Mira, a variable star in Cetus, changes brightness. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, the Winged Horse, westward. The Northern Cross stands on the northwestern horizon. The Royal Family: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda with our closest galactic neighbor Andromeda Galaxy and Perseus, Hero now slide into the northwest and pivot around Polaris, the North Star. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, across the north. By 8:30 p.m. the Gemini Twins: Castor and Pollux climb higher in the northeast, followed by the dim Beehive star cluster in Cancer, Crab.
Bright Jupiter, surrounded by its flour closest satellite moons, leads Leo, the Lion above the eastern horizon. The Big Dipper appears in the northeast. The delicate Seven sisters (Pleiades star cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, to the zenith. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). Gigantic Orion, Hunter strides higher in the east followed by Procyon, Little Dog. Brilliant blue Sirius (nearby star) sparkles in Orion's Big Dog trotting on its hind legs in the southeast.
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First Quarter Moon occurs at 11:48 p.m. Tonight aim binoculars to crater tops on the lunar shadow line.
By nightfall the bright moon floats between two star clusters: Pleiades (above) and the Hyades (below). Spectacular view in binoculars!
In morning twilight, bright Jupiter escorts the Lion westward. Capella steers the Charioteer across the northwest. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star. The tip of the handle of the Little Dipper is Polaris.Vega, in Lyra the Harp, twinkles in the northeast. The immense Summer Triangle appears on the northeastern horizon. Bright Arcturus sparkles in the east. Spica, in Virgo the SpringMaiden, drifts higher in the south. Corvus, Crow flies toward the southwest. The stunning star cluster Omega Centauri shimmers low in the south. Silver Saturn encircled in icy rings, leads huge Scorpius higher in the southeast. Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion’s torso.
Weather permitting, Southern Cross Astros invite you to a CometWatch from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Bill Sadowski Park, Southwest 176th Street at 79th Avenue west of Old Cutler Road in Palmetto Bay. Views of green Comet Lovejoy recently attracted 100 visitors.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org