Monday, February 16, 2009
The Moon passes Antares, the brightest star of Scorpius, in the pre-dawn sky tomorrow. Orange Antares will stand quite close to the left of the Moon at first light.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Two bright orange stars stand high in the south this evening. Aldebaran is at one point of a V-shaped pattern of stars that outlines the face of Taurus, the bull. And Betelgeuse, to its southeast, is at the top left corner of a rectangle that outlines Orion, the hunter.
Lepus, the rabbit, hops along beneath the feet of Orion, the hunter, on February evenings. Orion is well up in the south by the middle of the evening, and is quite easy to find. Lepus is much fainter, but its proximity to Orion will help you pick it out.
Spica, the brightest star of the constellation Virgo, is just a little to the left or upper left of the Moon as they rise in late evening. It represents a stalk of wheat held by a young maiden.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
February 12, 2009
The planet Venus stages its most dazzling show of the year over the next couple of weeks. The "evening star" is high in the west at nightfall and remains in view for several hours. It is brightest for the year, too.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
February 11, 2009
The planet Saturn is in good view tonight. It looks like a bright star to the upper left of the Moon as they rise in mid-evening. Its largest moon, Titan, is visible through small telescopes. It looks like a tiny star quite near Saturn.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The planet Saturn rises to the lower left of the gibbous Moon in mid-evening. The bright star Regulus, the leading light of Leo, the lion, looks on from above.
Monday, February 9, 2009
February 9, 2009
The full Moon undergoes a barely perceptible eclipse tonight. You need to look carefully to notice anything unusual, though. Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, the lion, is a little to the left or lower left of the Moon as they rise. (For more info on tonite's eclipse click here)
Sunday, February 8, 2009
February 8, 2009
The Moon will undergo a barely perceptible eclipse tomorrow evening (February 9th) as it slips through the faint outer portion of Earth's shadow. Part of the eclipse will be visible across most of the United States, but you will need to look carefully to notice any darkening.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
February 7, 2009
Hydra, the sea serpent, is the largest of the 88 constellations, stretching a quarter of the way around the sky. Its head rises around dark, far to the lower right of the Moon. But it takes about six hours for the rest of its body to climb into view, so its tail doesn't rise until after midnight.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Eridanus, the river, twists to the lower right of the bright constellation Orion. Astronomers have been keeping a close eye on its brightest star, and recently found that it is really a binary system. Achernar marks the river's southern end.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
February 5, 2009
Eridanus, the river, curls across the southwest this evening. One of its brightest stars, Epsilon Eridani, is just 10 light-years away. The star has an entourage of planets, one of which may pass near the region around the star that is most comfortable for life.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
February 4, 2009
A star that huddles close to the Moon tonight shows us what the Sun will look like in the future. Aldebaran, the orange "eye" of Taurus, the bull, is nearing the end of its life, so it has puffed up like a balloon. The Sun will experience this same fate in several billion years.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
February 3, 2009
A faint river of light meanders through the evening sky this month. It's the constellation Eridanus, a collection of stars that winds across a large section of the southwestern sky.
Monday, February 2, 2009
February 2, 2009
Three "squiggly" constellations wiggle across the sky on winter evenings. Draco, the dragon, is in the north, wrapping around the North Star. Eridanus, the river, trickles across the southwest. And Hydra, the sea serpent, slithers into view in the southeast.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
February 1, 2009
Pegasus, the flying horse, stands low in the west as darkness falls and sets by midnight. Look for four moderately bright stars that form the Great Square of Pegasus. The square stands on one point as it drops from view.