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Southern Cross Stargazer for Nov. 23-29, 2014

Sunday

By nightfall, the sliver of a young, crescent moon hangs low in the southwest and sets early. Find a clear view of the southwestern horizon to see brilliant Venus. Fading Mars lies to the upper left of the tilted Sagittarian Teapot. They set by 8:30 p.m.

Capricornus, the Sea Goat, wanders across the southwest. Dim, blue Neptune sails high across the southwest in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Grus, the Crane, stretches its starry neck above the southwestern horizon. Blue-green Uranus floats into the south in Pisces, the Fish. Cetus, the Whale, swims across the southeast.

The star Mira, in Cetus, is a red supergiant “variable star” with fluctuating brightness. In the east, Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, the Winged Horse, to the Zenith. Capella guides the Charioteer higher in the northeast. The Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, daughter Andromeda holding our closest galaxy, and Perseus, Hero.

The delicate Seven Sisters (the Pleiades cluster) lead Taurus, the Bull, higher in the east. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). Bright Vega leads the Summer Triangle across the northwest. Cygnus, the Swan, becomes the Northern Cross.

About 9 p.m., Orion, the Hunter, reclines in the east. Telescopes reveal the Great Orion Nebula (stellar nursery) located in his sword. About 10 p.m., the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, stand on the northeastern horizon. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Late evening, brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast. Bright Jupiter rises in the east beside Leo, the Lion. The Big Dipper appears in the northeast.

Tuesday

At dusk, the crescent moon floats 7 degrees to the right of Mars in the southwest. Binoculars reveal the dark Earthshine on the lunar surface. The stellar Teaspoon shimmers 2 degrees below the moon.

Thursday

About 6 a.m. silver Saturn appears on the southeastern horizon in Libra. Spica twinkles in the southeast, in Virgo the Spring Maiden. Corvus, the Crow, flies higher in the southeast. Bright Arcturus sparkles in the northeast. Overhead, Leo the Lion crawls beside westbound bright Jupiter. The Beehive cluster shimmers 15 degrees to the right of Jupiter.

The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Its bowl always faces Polaris, the North Star. The Gemini Twins drift westward. The Royal Family settles low in the northwest. Orion chases the Bull toward the northwestern horizon. Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the southwest, trailed by the Pups in the south.

Saturday

First Quarter Moon occurs 5:06 a.m. Tonight the moon lies near Neptune in Aquarius.

Astronomy program

A free Florida International University/Southern Cross Astronomical Society astronomy program featuring Dr. Scott Bolton will be held at 8 p.m. Monday at the Stocker AstroScience Center, behind the FIU Chemistry-Physics Building on the Main Campus.

Bolton will discuss the Juno Mission to Jupiter. Bolton, a director for NASA’s Juno project, also supervised the launch of New Horizons en route to Pluto, and the Cassini launch to Saturn.

Park in the faculty/visitors spaces of the campus garage on the west side of Southwest Eighth Street and 109th Avenue. Call 305-348-3964 for more information.

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

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