At dusk, bright Jupiter drifts lower in the west, below the Gemini Twins: Castor and Pollux. Aim binoculars to the dim Beehive star cluster left of the Twins. Capella steers Auriga, Charioteer, onto the northwestern horizon. Spica follows ruddy Mars across the south. Both are in Virgo.
Silver Saturn rises higher in the southeast in Libra. Leo, Lion crawls westward. Bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles overhead beyond the handle of the Big Dipper. Corona Borealis, a stellar necklace, twinkles few degrees east of Arcturus. The tip of the Little Dipper's handle is Polaris, North Star.
By nightfall (9 p.m.) Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle higher in the northeast. The celestial birds of summer fly across the night sky: Altair in Aquila the Eagle marks the southern point star of the Triangle; Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle; Corvus, the Crow, flies across the southwest. Huge Scorpius climbs above the southeastern horizon. Bright Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion's torso. Late evening the Sagittarian Teapot follows Scorpius. Capricornus, the Sea Goat, appears on the southeastern horizon.
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Dim Neptune rises in the southeast in Aquarius about midnight.
Winter constellations appear in the east in the predawn. By 5:30 a.m. brilliant Venus, Morning Star, glows 8 degrees to the right of the delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) in the east-northeast.The Royal Family arrives in the northeast. Capella twinkles low in the northeast. Aries, Ram climbs higher in the east. Pegasus, the Winged Horse, glides toward the Zenith. Westbound Vega leads the Summer Triangle overhead. Arcturus and the Big Dipper slide lower in the northwest. Saturn drifts into the west. The Sagittarian Teapot follows Scorpius across the southwest. From a rural dark site, the Summer Milky Way may be visible arching from the Teapot to the Triangle. A bright moon floats 5 degrees above dim Neptune. Fomalhaut glistens low in the southeast. Blue-green Uranus lies in Pisces, the Fish, in the east-southeast.
Last Quarter Moon at 2:39 p.m. The moon rises in the southeast after midnight.
Summer begins at 6:51 a.m. when the sun reaches its northernmost point on the Tropic of Cancer. Days are longest and nights shortest. Latest sunsets occur at 8:16 p.m. for the rest of June.
Celebrate the Summer Solstice with Southern Cross Astros at Bill Sadowski Park on Southwest 176 Street west of Old Cutler Road, Palmetto Bay. Events begin at 4:30 p.m. with safe solarviewing followed by a 7 p.m. “Bring Your Own Picnic” to cook on the campfire assisted by park staff and a Star Party from 9 to 11 p.m. on the deck with hi-tech SCAS equipment.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org