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Southern Cross Stargazer for Feb. 22-28, 2015

Sunday

At nightfall, aim binoculars on brilliant Venus, the Evening Star, dancing with dim Mars 0.5 degree apart in the west. They set about 8 p.m. Comet Lovejoy cruises by Andromeda and fades on its northbound journey. The Royal Family swings into the northwest. Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, toward the northwest. The Gemini Twins: Castor and Pollux climb onto the Zenith. The Beehive cluster shimmers below the Twins in Cancer, the Crab.

Bright Jupiter leads Leo, Lion higher in the east. The Big Dipper appears in the northeast. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) escort Taurus, the Bull, west of Zenith. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, onto the western horizon. Gigantic Orion, the Hunter, strides into the south. Telescopes reveal the Great Orion Nebula (173 trillion miles in diameter) where new stars develop, in Orion’s sword. Canopus radiates rainbow colors from the ancient ship Argo low in the south.

Tuesday

At dawn, Mercury reaches its highest altitude low in the southeast.

Tonight the young moon forms a triangle with two star clusters: Pleiades (above) and Hyades (left) of the moon.

Wednesday

First Quarter Moon occurs at 12:14 p.m. in Taurus.

Friday

By 6 a.m., Jupiter lands on the west-northwestern horizon. The Lion stalks the low western sky. In the northwest, the Big Dipper pivots around Polaris. The tip of the Little Dipper’s handle is Polaris, North Star.

Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles overhead. Vega leads the vast Summer Triangle higher in the northeast. The Sagittarian Teapot sits on the southeastern horizon. Silver Saturn leads huge Scorpius toward the south. The stars of Libra twinkle in the south-southwest. Spica, in Virgo, the Springmaiden, follows Corvus, the Crow, across the southwest.

Saturday

By nightfall, aim binoculars/telescopes to the west. Dim rusty Mars descends 3 degrees below Venus. Blue-green Uranus lies 4.4 degrees above Venus. They are all in Pisces, the Fish.

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

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