By nightfall, eastbound Mars slides 3.3 degrees below westbound silver Saturn in Libra in the west. Huge Scorpius crawls across the south. Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion’s torso.
The Sagittarian Teapot (center of our Milky Way Galaxy) closely follows Scorpius. The stellar Teaspoon glistens to the upper left of the Teapot’s handle. Capricornus, the Sea Goat, wanders toward the south. Dim blue Neptune sails high in the southeast above Fomalhaut in Aquarius. Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the immense Summer Triangle to the Zenith. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle. Pegasus, the Winged Horse, rises higher in the east. The Royal Family arrives in the northeast. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest. Bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles in the west beyond the end of the Dipper’s handle. Mid-evening, blue-green Uranus floats higher in the east in Pisces, the Fish.
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About 5:45 a.m. aim binoculars to the east-northeast. Jupiter climbs 6.5 degrees above brilliant Venus. The Morning Star descends toward the horizon. Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, higher in the northeast. Overhead the delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, toward the Zenith. Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face.) The Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda with our closest galaxy and Perseus, Hero.
As dawn breaks, the Gemini Twins stand on the northeastern horizon. Gigantic Orion, the Hunter, climbs higher in the east followed by Procyon, Little Dog. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog low in the southeast.
New Moon occurs at 10:13 a.m.
In evening dusk, a sliver of a young moon is visible low in the west. Mercury appears on the horizon, 7 degrees to the right of the moon.
By nightfall aim binoculars to the young crescent moon with dark Earthshine in the southwest.
Tonight dim blue Neptune lies opposite the sun. Neptune will be brightest this month and remain about 3 billion miles from Earth. Neptune rises in the southeast at sunset and sets in the west at dawn. Discovered in 1846, Neptune completed its first recorded orbit around the sun last year. In 1976, four thin, dark rings were discovered around the outer planet. Neptune has 13 known satellite moons.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org