By nightfall, silver Saturn, encircled in sunlit icy rings, drifts across the southwest in Libra. Saturn sets about 10:30 p.m. Eastbound Mars lies 6 degrees in front of huge Scorpius in the south-southwest. Bright Antares is the heart beating in the Scorpion’s torso. Antares, a red supergiant, is hundreds of times larger than our sun. Mars will move closest to Antares end of this month. The red color of Mars differs from the red color of Antares when revealed in binoculars.
The Sagittarian Teapot (center of our Galaxy) closely follows Scorpius across the south. The stellar Teaspoon glistens to the upper left of the Teapot. Binoculars reveal hundreds of deep sky objects shimmering from the dense center of our Milky Way Galaxy in the south.
Capricornus, the Sea Goat, wanders toward the south. Grus, the Crane, stretches its starry neck above the southeastern horizon. Dim blue Neptune sails high across the southeast above the star Fomalhaut. Both are in Aquarius.
Pegasus, the Winged Horse, rises higher in the east. Aries, Ram, peers over the eastern horizon. The Royal Family settles in the northeast. Westbound Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the immense Summer Triangle overhead. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle. The star Cygnus-A emits a powerful radio source. Bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles in the west. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest. Mid-evening blue-green Uranus rises in the east in Pisces, the Fish.
In evening dusk, Mercury rises above the western horizon, to the lower right of Spica in Virgo. The Harvest Moon is full at 9;38 p.m. The last Supermoon of 2014 floats 222,692 miles from Earth at 11:32 p.m. The Harvest Moon is the full moon about two weeks from the Autumnal Equinox. The Harvest Moon sometimes occurs in October. Colonial farmers harvested their fields far into the night by the light of the bright Harvest Moon.
The bight moon floats 1.1 degree from Uranus by 10 p.m. in the southeast.
In the predawn, Jupiter glows high in the east. Brilliant Venus, Morning Star, descends beside Leo, the Lion, on the eastern horizon. The Gemini Twins stand in the northeast. Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, across the northeast.
The Royal Family: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda and Perseus reign in the north. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, overhead. Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face).
Orion, the Hunter, climbs higher in the east in pursuit of the Bull. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast.
A free program, “Blazars,” illustrated by FIU Professor James R. Webb and Pinecrest FIU student Jordan DeWitt, will be presented at 8 p.m. at the FIU Physics Building, CP-145 lecture hall, on the Modesto Maidique Campus. Prizes, food and a tour of the new FIU Observatory complete the SCAS program. Park in the campus garage, (faculty/ visitors slots) west side of Southwest 109the Avenue at Eighth Street and follow the SCAS signs to CP-145.X
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org