By about 6:30 p.m., eastbound dim Mars, the one visible planet in the evening sky, is perched 0.6 degree atop the lid of the tilted Sagittarian Teapot in the southwest. The warrior planet is now 160 million miles from Earth and sets about 8:30 p.m. The stellar teaspoon shimmers above the curved handle of the Teapot. Huge Scorpius slinks along the southwesrn horizon.
Visible in telescopes, outer planets dim blue Neptune sails high into the southwest in Aquarius and blue-green Uranus floats in Pisces, the Fish, in the southeast. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune.
Capricornus, the Sea Goat, wanders into the southwest. Grus, the Crane, stretches its starry neck above the southern horizon. Cetus, the Whale, swims across the southeast. Phoenix spreads its wings on the southern horizon. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, onto the Zenith.
Mid-evening, the Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, above the eastern horizon. Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). Capella guides Auriga, the ancient Charioteer, higher in the northeast.
The Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda with our closest galaxy, and Perseus, Hero. Hercules leads bright Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle into the northwest. Cygnus, the Swan, soars within the Triangle and becomes the Northern Cross. Around midnight, gigantic Orion, the Hunter, snoozes on the eastern horizon.
In the predawn, bright Jupiter escorts Leo, the Lion, higher in the east. Jupiter’s four closest moons swing around the huge striped planet. The Big Dipper rises in the northeast. The dim Beehive star cluster, in Cancer the Crab, lies about 10 degrees above Jupiter. The Gemini Twins: Castor and Pollux drift overhead. Capella steers the Charioteer high across the north. The Royal Family glide into the northwest.
At dawn, Mercury, in Virgo the Spring Maiden, appears 4 degrees above the southeastern horizon. Spica, in Virgo, twinkles 4.2 degrees to the right of Mercury. Kite-shaped Corvus, the Crow, lifts above the southeastern horizon to the right of Spica. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion into the southwest. Brilliant blue Sirius (nearby star) sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog trotting across the south. About 20 degrees below Sirius, bright Canopus radiates rainbow colors from the ancient ship Argo low in the south.
The Autumn Moon is full at 5:23 p.m. and rises in Aries in the east at sunset. The Seven Sisters shimmer 10 degrees lower left of the bright moon.
The Southern Cross Astronomical Society plans free, safe solarviewing at the ticket entrance to ZooMiami from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays, weather permitting. Check Spaceweather.com for stunning photos of solar explosions and Arctic auroras.
Star Party: 8-10 p.m. at MiamiDade Bill Sadowski Park on Southwest 176th Street at 79th Avenue. High-tech equipment will be aimed at the Andromeda Galaxy, nebulas and winter star clusters. For groups exceeding 12, please call 305-661-1375.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org