Southern Cross Stargazer for March 23-29, 2014


Last Quarter Moon occurs at 9:46 p.m. The moon rises in the southeast after midnight.

Mid-evening aim telescopes with cameras to bright Jupiter overhead. Satellite moons Io and Ganymede cast their shadows on the planet’s surface. By 8:30 p.m. Io’s shadow (black dot) drifts across Jupiter. About 9:30 p.m., the shadow of Ganymede appears on Jupiters edge (larger black dot) as Io’s shadow slips off the planet’s opposite edge. Superb in hi-tech equipment and cameras!


Five planets are visible in the predawn: Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury.

In the predawn, the moon floats above the Sagittarian Teapot in the south. By 6 a.m. aim binoculars to the south to focus on a myriad of celestial deep sky objects shimmering in the area around the Teapot and huge Scorpius — center of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart in the Scorpion’s torso. Silver Saturn, surrounded by its icy rings, lies in Libra ahead of the Scorpion. Brilliant Venus, Morning Star, glows at its highest altitude in the southeast for a few days. Mercury hugs the southeastern horizon. Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle higher in the northeast. Cygnus, Swan, flies within the Triangle. Ruddy Mars glows 5 degrees from the star Spica, both in Virgo, in the southwest. Arcturus, Herdsman, sparkles in the west. The Big Dipper turns lower in the northwest as it pivots around Polaris, North Star.


About 6 a.m. the waning moon rises 4 degrees from brilliant Venus in the east. Stunning views in binoculars and cameras!


Daylight Savings Times makes stars and planets rise an hour later. At dusk bright Jupiter still glows overhead in Gemini. The dim Beehive cluster (200 stars) twinkles in Cancer the Crab, behind the Gemini Twins Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, across the northwest. Aries, Ram, butts his head on the western horizon. The Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, Bull into the northwest. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) Orion, Hunter, chases the Bull into the northwest.

The Great Orion Nebula (stellar nursery) glows from Orion’s sword. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Procyon, 11.4 light years from Earth, has a nearby companion star. Brilliant blue Sirius, a nearby star with a compannion star, sparkles in Orion's Big Dog in the south. The Pups in the southeast follow the Big Dog. Canopus radiates rainbow colors from the ancient ship Argo low in the south. Leo, Lion crawls toward the Zenith. The Big Dipper rises higher in the northeast. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star. About 10 p.m. Corvus, Crow flies higher in the southeast followed by Spica and copper-colored Mars in the east in Virgo. Bright Arcturus, Herdsman, sparkles in the northeast.

Lights Out America, a global event that requests outdoor lights be turned off 8:30-9:30 p.m. according to one’s time zone. It allows one hour of cost saving and a chance to view our natural wonder overhead — weather permitting.

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