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Southern Cross Stargazer for Jan. 18-24, 2015

Sunday

Five planets grace the evening sky. At dusk aim binoculars to brilliant Venus in the southwest 5 degrees from Mercury in Capricornus. They set early. Mars lingers above Venus. Dim blue Neptune drifts lower in the southwest in Aquarius. Fomalhaut twinkles below Neptune. Blue-green Uranus floats into the southwest in Pisces, the Fish.

Cetus, the Whale, swims across the southwest. Aries, the Ram, chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, westward. The Northern Cross stands on the northwestern horizon. The Royal Family pivots into the northwest: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, their daughter Andromeda with our nearest galaxy, and Perseus, Hero. Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, across the north. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades star cluster) leads Taurus, the Bull, overhead. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face).

Mid-evening bright Jupiter rises in the east beside Leo, Lion. The Big Dipper appears in the northeast. The Gemini Twins climb higher in the northeast. The Beehive cluster shimmers below the Twins. Gigantic Orion, Hunter strides higher in the east, followed by Procyon, Little Dog. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion's Big Dog trotting on its hind legs in the southeast.

Wednesday

New Moon occurs 8:14 a.m. when it is closest to the sun and becomes invisible.

Tonight aim binoculars to Neptune 0.2 degree above ruddy Mars in Aquarius in the southwest. The sliver of a young moon forms a triangle with Mercury and Venus in the southwest. before they set.

Thursday

At dusk, Venus and Jupiter are visible about 3 degrees above opposite horizons: Venus in southwest and Jupiter rising in the east. The moon floats 4 degrees from Mars in the southwest.

Friday

About 6 a.m., Vega, in Lyra the Harp, twinkles in the northeast. The vast Summer Triangle appears on the northeastern horizon. Bright Arcturus sparkles in the east. Silver Saturn surrounded by its icy rings, leads huge Scorpius higher in the southeast. Spica, in Virgo the Springmaiden, follows Corvus the Crow across the south. Bright Jupiter leads Leo, Lion westward. Capella guides the Charioteer into the northwest. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Its bowl always faces Polaris, North Star. The end of the Little Dipper’s handle is Polaris. Check Spaceweather.com for spectacular photos of northern auroras.

Saturday

Weather permitting, Southern Cross Astros will schedule CometWatches 8-10:30 p.m. at Bill Sadowski Park, Southwest 176th Street at 79th Avenue, west of Old Cutler Road, Palmetto Bay. No lights, alcohol, pets in the park. Tickets will be issued to cars parked on private property on 79th Ave.

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

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