At dusk, Venus dominates the southwestern sky. Dim, rusty Mars lingers 7 degrees above Venus. Blue-green Uranus floats across the southwest. Three planets are in Pisces, the Fish, and set early.
Overhead Comet Lovejoy cruises near Andromeda west of the Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster). Bright Jupiter rises in the east by 8 p.m. beside Leo, the Lion. Jupiter will be brightest and closest to Earth this month. The Big Dipper rises higher in the northeast. Its bowl always faces Polaris, the North Star. The Little Dipper’s handle is attached to Polaris. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, across the north. The Royal Family swings lower in the northwest. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, onto the western horizon. The Gemini Twins glide toward the Zenith followed by the dim Beehive star cluster. containing 200 stars.
The delicate Seven Sisters (500 stars) lead Taurus, the Bull, overhead. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). Gigantic Orion, the Hunter, strides toward the south. Telescopes reveal the Great Orion Nebula.
Last Quarter Moon occurs at 10:50 p.m. and rises in the southeast after midnight.
By 6 a.m., bright Jupiter leads the Lion lower in the west. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles overhead. Corvus, the Crow, flies across the southwest followed by Spica, in Virgo the SpringMaiden. The stars of Libra twinkle in the south.
Silver Saturn, encircled in icy rings, glows beside huge Scorpius in the southeast. Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion’s torso. The Sagittarian Teapot emerges on the southeastern horizon. Vega leads the vast Summer Triangle above the northeastern horizon. The Summer Milky Way shimmers on the eastern horizon.
Bring your Valentine to our Southern Cross CometWatch and Star Party, 8-10:30 p.m. at Bill Sadowski Park on Southwest 176 Street at 79th Avenue west of Old Cutler Road in Palmetto Bay. No lights, alcohol or pets in the Miami-Dade Preserve. Tickets will be issued to cars parked on private property on Southwest 79th Avenue.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org