By nightfall (9 p.m.) golden Jupiter and its satellite moons drift lower in the west-northwest. The Gemini Twins: Castor and Pollux, stand on the horizon to the upper right of Jupiter. Aim binoculars to the delicate Beehive star cluster upper left of the Twins. They set early.
Mars glows high in the south followed by the star Spica. Both are in Virgo. Corvus, the Crow, flies across the southwest. Leo, the Lion, crawls westward. Dim Comet PANSTARRS cruises down toward the Lion’s head. Silver Saturn, encircled by its icy sunlit rings, rises higher in the southeast in Libra.
Arcturus, the Herdsman, a red giant star 37 light years from Earth, sparkles overhead beyond the end of the curved handle of the Big Dipper. The bowl of the Big Dipper always faces Polaris, the North Star. The Little Dipper’s handle appears attached to Polaris. Huge Scorpius crawls above the southeastern horizon. Bright Antares, a red giant star hundreds of times larger than our sun, is the red heart beating in the Scorpion's torso.
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Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle higher in the northeast. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle. Mid-evening, the Sagittarian Teapot appears in the southeast close behind Scorpius. The Summer Milky Way arches from the Teapot (center of our Milky Way Galaxy) to the Triangle, visible from a dark, rural site. Before midnight, dim Neptune rises in the east in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles low in the southeast. Capricornus, the Sea Goat, wanders across the southeast. .
At dawn (5:30 a.m.) a rare celestial quartet plays above the east-northeastern horizon. The Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) shimmer above brilliant Venus, Morning Star. The waning crescent moon snuggles with Venus. Aries, the Ram, climbs higher in the east. Taurus, the Bull, peers over the eastern horizon. Ruddy Aldebaran (the Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) near the east-northeastern horizon. Beautiful view in binoculars!
Capella rises in the northeast. The Royal Family arrives in the northeast: Queen Cassiopeia, King Cepheus, Andromeda Galaxy and Perseus. In the east, Pegasus, the Winged Horse, drifts toward the Zenith. Saturn slides low in the west.
Dim Neptune sails across the south above the star Fomallhaut. Blue-green Uranus appears 10 degrees above the eastern horizon in Pisces, the Fish.
New Moon occurs 4:08 a.m. The new moon is not visible while it drifts between the sun and Earth.
At dusk, aim binoculars to the young crescent moon with dark Earthshine, visible briefly near Jupiter setting in the west.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org