Planets line up and moon follows

Sunday June 24, 2012

Special to The Eagle

Look up to the southwestern sky about half an hour after sunset all week for a bit of light refreshment. First there’s the soft, pale atmosphere and, tonight, the crescent moon.

Then a pure point of light penetrates the troposphere and touches our eyes. Another star emerges and another. A smile of pleasure blooms in response to the wonder of the cosmos coming into our day.

As the sky darkens, relationships take shape between the points of light prompting recognition of the identities of each of the celestial bodies.

A pair of lights about halfway up from the south-southwest horizon is planet Saturn and bright star Spica. Slide to the right on a slight downward diagonal to the next brightest object, ruddy Mars.

Continue the slant down to find Regulus, "little king." above and to the right of the moon tonight. The moon will be higher and bigger in the sky at sunset every night: tomorrow to the right of Mars, Tuesday to the red planets left and Wednesday a gibbous moon to the right of Spica.

If you can get to a clear view of the west-northwest horizon, be sure to look for planet Mercury between 9 and 9:30 p.m. Mercury punctuates the bottom end of the slanted line that travels up to Regulus, Mars and Saturn. With a view to the horizon that is clear and pollution free, see winter stars Pollux and Castor angling off to Mercury’s right, the dynamic threesome about to set.

Know these distant suns and planets, for in being aware of them there is affirmation of our earthly life.

Judy Isacoff:


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