StarDate Online

  • Saturn Opposition II

    Saturn is putting on its best showing of the year. It rises at sunset, remains in view all night, and is brightest for the year. It looks like a bright golden star low in the southeast at nightfall. It stands to the lower left of brighter Mars.

  • Saturn Opposition

    The giant planet Saturn will reach opposition on Friday night, standing opposite the Sun in the sky. It will rise at sunset and remain in the sky all night. It will be closest to Earth shortly after opposition, so it is shining brightest for the year.

  • Ursa Major

    Ursa Major, the great bear, is high in the north this evening, and rotates to the northwest after midnight. Its most prominent stars form the Big Dipper. The dipper’s bowl forms the bear’s hindquarters, while the handle forms its tail.

  • Last-Quarter Moon

    The Moon reaches last quarter at 7:12 a.m. CDT tomorrow, as it lines up at a right angle to the line between Earth and the Sun. Sunlight will illuminate about half of the lunar disk as the Moon rises in the wee hours of the morning.

  • Arcturus

    The giant star Arcturus adds a splash of color to the sky tonight. It is two-thirds of the way up the southeastern sky as darkness falls, and shines with a distinctly yellow-orange hue. It’s the brightest star in Bootes, the herdsman.

  • Faint Constellations

    The little-known constellations Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices stand high overhead in early evening. They reside between two easy-to-find stars: Alkaid, which is the end of the Big Dipper’s handle, and Denebola, the tail of Leo, the lion.

  • The Centaur

    Late spring is a good time to look for the constellation Centaurus, the mythological half-man, half-horse. His head and shoulders stand due south, quite low above the horizon, about three hours after sunset.

  • Grand M81

    Under clear, dark skies you can spot the spiral galaxy M81 with binoculars. At nightfall, it stands below the bowl of the Big Dipper, which is high in the north. The galaxy looks like an oval smudge of light that is almost as wide as the Moon.

  • Disappearing Star

    As the last blush of twilight begins to fade away, look almost due west for Procyon, the little dog star. It’s not all that high in the sky, but if you have a clear horizon it will stand out.

  • Moon and Companions

    The Moon and three bright companions arc low across the south tonight. The planet Saturn is close to the right of the Moon at nightfall, with the star Antares farther to the right. Orange Mars stands above them all, shining brightest for the year.

  • Moon and Mars

    Mars lines up opposite the Sun tomorrow, so it shines at its brightest for the next two years. It looks like a brilliant star. It stands to the right of the full Moon as darkness falls tonight, with the planet Saturn and the star Antares below them.

  • Mars Opposition II

    Mars is in the southeast as darkness falls tonight, below the Moon. The Moon will move closer to the bright orange planet as they arc across the south during the night. They will be even closer tomorrow night.

  • Mars Opposition

    Mars is putting in its best appearance of the year this week. It rises around sunset, remains in view all night, and is at its brightest. Look for it low in the southeast as night falls, shining like a brilliant orange star.

  • Moon and Spica II

    A bright star stands close to the right of the fat gibbous Moon as twilight fades away tonight: Spica, the brightest star of Virgo. Spica’s primary star likely will end its life with a titanic explosion, known as a supernova.

  • Moon and Spica

    Spica, the leading light of the constellation Virgo, stands to the lower left of the Moon at nightfall, and closer to its left as they set in the wee hours of the morning.

  • Cygnus Returns

    Beautiful Cygnus, the swan, returns to the evening sky this month. It rises in the northeast around 11 p.m. Its brightest star is Deneb, which marks the swan’s tail. Its body stretches to the right of Deneb, through the glow of the Milky Way.

  • More Moon and Jupiter

    The giant planet Jupiter is in good view tonight. It looks like a brilliant star to the right or upper right of the Moon at nightfall, and to the lower right of the Moon as they set in the early morning.

  • Moon and Jupiter

    The solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter, huddles close to the upper left of the Moon at nightfall. It will stand even closer above the Moon as they set in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

  • Moon and Regulus

    Regulus, the star that represents the heart of Leo, stands just above the Moon as night falls. The brilliant planet Jupiter perches to the upper left. The Moon will stand quite close to Jupiter tomorrow night.

  • Spring Semicircle

    The Big Dipper hangs high in the north as darkness falls this evening. It is upside down, with the stars of the handle to the right of the bowl. If you extend the handle’s arc, you loop to the bright stars Arcturus and Spica, forming a giant semicircle.

  • Moon and Gemini

    The twins of Gemini line up well to the right of the Moon this evening. Pollux is the brighter of the stars, and stands closer to the Moon. Its “twin” is Castor, which is really a system of at least six stars.

  • Gamma Virginis

    Virgo is well up in the southeast as darkness falls, marked by its brightest star, Spica. Another of Virgo’s stars, Gamma Virginis, stands high above it. Gamma Virginis is a binary system, and both of its stars shine pure white.

  • Star Wheel

    The Big Dipper and W-shaped Cassiopeia wheel around the Pole Star like a carnival ride. When one is high in the sky, the other sits atop the horizon. This month the Big Dipper takes the upper berth, standing high in the north during the evening.

  • Mercury Transit II

    The planet Mercury will transit the Sun tomorrow, looking like a tiny black dot crossing the solar disk. The transit begins at 6:12 a.m. CDT and ends five-and-a-half hours later. Don’t look at the Sun, however, because it’s dangerously bright. Instead, view the transit online.

  • Evening Moon

    A vanishingly thin crescent Moon just peeks into view in the west as twilight begins to fade this evening. You will need a clear horizon to spot it. The Moon will climb higher on each succeeding evening, with the crescent growing fatter.

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