At dusk (6:30 p.m.) faded Mars lingers 20 degrees above the southwestern horizon and sets before 9 p.m. Brilliant Venus appears on the southwestern horizon. Capricornus, the Sea Goat, plods across the southwest. Dim blue Neptune drifts high in the southwest in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune.
The moon floats in Pisces, the Fish. Cetus, the Whale, swims across the southeast, below blue-green Uranus in Pisces. Phoenix spreads its wings on the southern horizon. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, westward. The Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) lead Taurus higher in the east. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face) in Taurus.
Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, higher in the northeast. The Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda and Perseus, Hero. The vast Summer Triangle drifts low in the northwest. Cygnus, the Swan, becomes the Northern Cross. Mid-evening, gigantic Orion, the Hunter, rises in the east.
The Great Orion Nebula (stellar nursery) glows in the sword below Orion’s Belt. New stars evolve from the huge luminous gas cloud (173trillion miles in diameter.) The star Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Brilliant Sirius (nearby star) marks the blue eye sparkling in Orion’s Big Dog in the southeast. The Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, stand on the northeastern horizon. Before midnight, bright Jupiter glows in the east. Leo, the Lion, crawls above the eastern horizon. The Big Dipper rises in the northeast. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star.
Tonight the moon floats 0.5 degree above Uranus, visible in telescopes or binoculars.
Before 6 a.m., bright Arcturus sparkles in the northeast. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Westbound Jupiter glows 7.5 degrees from Regulus (elbow star in the reclining Lion). The dim Beehive cluster shimmers 15 degrees to the right of Jupiter. Spica rises higher in the southeast in Virgo, Spring Maiden. Kite-shaped Corvus, Crow, flies across the southeast. Orion strides toward the west, followed by his Big Dog and the Pups in the south.
Tonight Mars enters Capricornus in the southwest. The moon floats to the right of the Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) in the east.
By nightfall the bright moon rises in the east 2 degrees above Aldebaran in Taurus.
The Winter Moon is full at 7:27 a.m.
Weather permitting, Southern Cross Astros will offer safe solar viewing from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the ticket entrance to Zoo Miami, 12400 SW 152nd St.
At 7:30 p.m., SCAS high-tech equipment will focus on the blazing winter stars above Bill Sadowski Park on Southwest 176th Street west of Old Cutler Road in Palmetto Bay.
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org.