Eyes to the Sky: Splendid lights from stars, planets
Look up and be dazzled Sunday night! As twilight deepens, stunning lights come out in the heavens. Planets and brilliant stars join the crescent moon, which is visible following the sun all day.
Many of the brightest celestial objects will appear in the west-southwest in the vicinity of the moon. Beginning at about 8:20, look for Jupiter to the right of the crescent. Below the moon, close above the horizon, spot stunning Sirius, the brightest true star in our skies. Orion's Belt, three stars in a row, will be poised to set to the right of Sirius. Continue right to Aldebaran, Taurus the Bull's red eye. With a clear view of the horizon, these distant suns may be seen as darkness gathers until they set at around 9:30, soon to disappear until late autumn.
Tracking south (left) and above the moon at nightfall, recognize the great arc of Leo the Lion's head. Luminous Regulus, Leo's heart or shoulder star, marks a corner of the Spring Triangle. Golden planet Mars, the brightest star-like object in the south-southeast, arrests our attention on the way to identifying the Spring Triangle's dimmest star, bluish Spica, a short distance beyond the ruddy planet. Complete the triangle with red-orange Arcturus, the brightest star a ways above and to the left of Mars.
Drop down from Arcturus to find planet Saturn close above the southeast skyline. Mars, Saturn and Arcturus form a vivid triangle that travels the heavens all night and will be a feature, with the Spring Triangle, all season.
Look closely at Mars and its companion, a rather dim star, Porrima. They are especially close now. Watch the distance between them widen and the planet dim in the coming weeks and months.
To contact Judy Isacoff go to: www.naturesturn.org