Southern Cross Stargazer for Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2014


By 8 p.m. the crescent moon with dark Earthshine leads huge Scorpius across the southwest. Silver Saturn, encircled in sunlit icy rings, floats in Libra, lower right of the moon. Rusty Mars hangs above bright Antares, red heart, beating in the Scorpion’s torso. Binoculars will reveal their contrasting shades of red and a myriad of celestial objects shimmering behind Scorpius and the Teapot in the south.

The tilted Sagittarian Teapot (center of our galaxy) pours onto the stinger tail of the Scorpion. 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 in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Aries, the Ram, follows Pegasus, the Winged Horse, higher in the east.

Westbound Hercules leads Vega and the immense Summer Triangle overhead. Vega is 25.3 light years from Earth and is the western point star of the Triangle. Vega lies near the small rectangle of stars called Lyra the Harp which houses the Ring Nebula. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle. Deneb, the north point star in the Triangle also marks the Swan’s tailfeathers. Colorful double stars twinkle in the Swan’s eye. Altair, in Aquila, the Eagle, is the southern point star. Mid-evening, bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles in the west. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest. The Royal Family arrives in the north. Blue-green Uranus rises in the southeast in Pisces, the Fish.


At dusk a celestial line-up occurs in the south: the crescent moon floats directly above Mars. Antares, red heart, sparkles 3 degrees below Mars. Amazing view in binoculars.


First Quarter Moon occurs 3:33 p.m. Tonight aim binoculars to crater tops emerging from the vertical shadow line on the moon.


By 6 a.m., Venus, the Morning Star, exits the eastern sky. Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, into the north. Bright Jupiter leads Leo, the Lion, higher in the east. The Beehive cluster shimmers near Jupiter. The Gemini Twins drift toward the Zenith. Westbound Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull overhead. Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) twinkles in the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face).

Orion, the Hunter strides toward the Zenith, followed by Procyon, Little Dog. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast. The Royal Family slides toward the northwest.


Free program: Celestial Fireworks with Dr. Michael McGauley, MiamiDade College-Kendall, illustrating the source of meteor showers, fireballs, bolides, comets and auroras is at 8 p.m. in the FIU Physics Building lecture hall, CP-145l, Maidique campus. Park in the campus garage at Southwest 109th Avenue and Eighth Street in faculty/visitor slots. Follow the SCAS signs across the patio into CP-145. 305-661-1375.

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