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Southern Cross Stargazer for Sept. 21-27, 2014

Sunday

In evening dusk Mercury reaches its highest altitude only a few degrees above the southwestern horizon. Aim binoculars to bright Mercury 2degrees left of the star Spica in Virgo, Spring Maiden. They set early. Westbound silver Saturn, encircled in sunlit icy rings, drifts lower in the southwest in Libra.

Mars leads huge Scorpius across the southwest. Bright Antares, a red supergiant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion’s torso. The tilted Sagittarian teapot “pours” onto the Scorpion’s stinger tail in the south.

Grus, Crane, stretches its starry neck above the southeastern horizon. Capricornus, the Sea Goat, plods toward the south. Dim blue Neptune sails high across the southeast in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Blue-green Uranus rises in the east an hour later in Pisces, the Fish. Aries, the Ram, follows Pegasus, the Winged Horse, higher in the east.

Mid-evening, the Royal Family arrives in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, daughter Andromeda holding our closest galaxy, and Perseus the Hero. Westbound Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp and the vast Summer Triangle overhead. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle. Bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles in the west. The Big Dipper swings low in the northwest.

Monday

About 6:30 a.m. the old crescent moon rises beside Leo, the Lion, in the east. The Autumnal Equinox occurs at 10:29 p.m. when the southbound sun crosses the Equator. Autumn arrives in the Northern Hemisphere and Spring occurs in the Southern Hemisphere. Day and night hours are about equal for a week. The sun rises due east and sets due west.

Wednesday

New Moon occurs at 2:14 a.m.

Thursday

Before 8 p.m., aim binoculars to a sliver of a young moon 2 degrees to the right of Spica. Mercury lies 4 degrees left of the pair. They set early.

Friday

By nightfall Mars lies 3 degrees above Antares in the southwest. Binoculars will reveal their contrasting shades of red.

SCAS PROGRAM: A lecture on cosmology illustrated by FIU research astronomer Dr. James R. Webb will be held at 8 p.m. at the FIU Physics Building CP-145 lecture hall followed by a tour of the new observatory. Park in the campus garage, faculty/visitor slots, west side of Southwest 109th Avenue at Eighth Street. Info: 305-348-3964.

Saturday

By 6:30 a.m. bright Venus, the Evening Star, hovers near the eastern horizon. Jupiter leads Leo, the Lion, higher in the east. The Beehive star cluster shimmers 7 degrees above Jupiter. The Gemini Twins drift higher in the northeast.

Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, toward the north. The westbound Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, overhead. The Royal Family edges toward the northwest. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus in the west. Orion, the Hunter, strides higher in the east, followed by Procyon, Little Dog. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast.

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

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