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Southern Cross Stargazer for May 2016

EVENING: Mars most brilliant this month

May opens with Mercury descending onto the west-northwestern horizon. It follows the setting sun by mid-week. Golden Jupiter glows overhead near the hind leg of westbound Leo, Lion. Telescopes reveal storm bands on the planet and 4 closest satellite moons. Bright copper-colored Mars leads huge Scorpius above the southeastern horizon by 10:30 p.m. By 11 p.m. silver Saturn follows Mars by 7 degrees They ride across the south all night. Antares, a red super giant, is the heart beating in the Scorpion's torso 5 degrees below Mars.Use binoculars to discern the different red shades of Mars and Antares. Corvus, Crow leads Spica, in Virgo the SpringMaiden, across the south followed by the stars of Libra. Famed star cluster Omega Centauri, with a million stars, shimmers low in the south Vega, in Lyra, appears low in the northeast. Bright Arcturus sparkles high in the east beyond the handle of the Big Dipper that hangs in the north. The bowl of the Big Dipper faces Polaris, North Star. The tip of the Little Dipper's handle is the North Star. The Gemini Twins lead the Beehive star cluster lower in the northwest.The Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) shimmer near the northwestern horizon. Taurus, Bull lands on the northwestern horizon. Ruddy Aldebaran (red eye of the Bull) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull's face) left of the Pleiades. Orion, Hunter leans over the western horizon. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion's Big Dog in the southwest.By midnight the Summer Milky Way (River of Stars) lies along the eastern horizon.

Venus returns to the evening sky in July.

5/6- About midnight early Eta Aquarid Meteors may be visible radiating from Aquarius low in the southeast.

06- New Moon occurs 3:30 p.m.

07 The young crescent moon floats low in the northwest between two star clusters: Hyades upper left and Pleiades right.

12- Mid-evening: Mars and Saturn are 10 degrees apart in the southeast.

13- First Quarter Moon occurs 1:02 p.m. Use binoculars to view lunar craters on the straight shadow line.

21- The Blossom Moon is full 5:14 p.m. and rises in the southeast left of bright ruddy Mars at dusk.

22- Mars lies opposite the sun and will be its brightest and resemble a glowing ember!

30- At 6 p.m. fiery Mars will be 46.8 million miles from Earth, its closest visit in eleven years.

MORNING

Jupiter sets in the west about 4 a.m. By 5:45 a.m. westbound Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle overhead. Cygnus, Swan, soars within the Triangle. Pegasus, Winged Horse, rises in the east. The Royal Family arrives in the northeast: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, daughter Andromeda and Perseus. The Big Dipper swings into the northwest. Bright Arcturus, red giant, sparkles in the west. Mars, Saturn and Scorpius drift into the west. The Sagittarian Teapot shimmers in the southwest.(center of the Milky Way Galaxy). Capricornus, Sea Goat, plods across the south. The Summer Milky Way arches from the Teapot to the Triangle.

02- By 6 a..m. the waning crescent moon rises in the southeast 1.7 degrees left of Neptune.

05/6- Predawn- Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower radiates from Aquarius on the southeastern horizon. Debris from long-gone Comet Halley will produce about 15 bright meteors per hour with colorful trains.Fomalhaut twinkles low in the southeast below Neptune.

09- Mercury transits the sun 7:15 a.m.-3 p.m. Telescopes with professional solar filters are required to prevent eye retina blindness. Sunglasses, solar glasses, welding glass is unsafe. Mercury will appear as a very tiny black dot against the blazing sun. The next Mercury/solar transit 11/11, 2019.

22- Bright moon joins Saturn above fiery Mars and Antares in Scorpius in the southwest. Mars opposite sun 7 a.m.

24/25- The moon floats above the tilted Sagittarian Teapot `pouring' onto the stinger tail of the Scorpion in southwest.

29- Last Quarter Moon occurs 8:12 a.m.

31- By dawn, Mercury rises on the east-northeaster horizon. Jupiter now sets in the west about 2 a.m.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Sunday, 22nd: Public MarsWatch 7 p.m. Deering Estates Southwest 168 St.. Miami 33157. Southern Cross hi-tech equipment will be arranged at waterfront. 305-661-1375.

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