StarDate Online

  • Annular Eclipse

    Residents of Africa will see an annular eclipse of the Sun tomorrow. The Moon will pass between Earth and Sun, blocking most of the Sun’s disk. But the Moon is farther from Earth than average, so it won’t be big enough to cover the entire disk.

  • Algol

    One of the most famous denizens of autumn skies is climbing into view. It sometimes is associated with Halloween because of its spooky name: Algol, the “demon” star. It rises in the northeast about an hour after sunset.

  • Trifid Nebula

    Just north of the teapot-shaped star pattern marking the constellation Sagittarius, small telescopes reveal the Trifid Nebula, a fuzzy pink patch of light. The nebula is a cloud of gas and dust about 3,500 light-years from Earth.

  • Watching the Bear

    From the handle of the Big Dipper, you can arc to Arcturus. In other words, follow the curve of the handle away from the dipper until you come to the brilliant yellow-orange star Arcturus, which is well up in the west as night falls.

  • Zenith

    From the northern half of the U.S., two bright stars are passing through the zenith. From the latitude of about Kansas City, bright Vega crosses the zenith around 10 p.m. And from farther north, the fainter star Deneb is at the zenith near midnight.

  • Sunflower Galaxy

    M63 is a beautiful spiral galaxy that resembles a sunflower. It’s 27 million light-years away, and it’s about the same size as our own galaxy, the Milky Way. It is in the west-northwest at nightfall, visible through a telescope to the left of the Big Dipper.

  • Venus and Jupiter

    Jupiter perches close to the upper left of Venus, the brilliant “evening star,” tonight. They are quite low in the west shortly after sunset, so you need a clear horizon to find them. On Saturday, they will stand almost atop each other.

  • Moon and Aldebaran

    The last-quarter Moon slides toward the eye of the bull early tomorrow. Look for bright orange Aldebaran to the lower left of the Moon as they climb into good view by 1 or 2 a.m. The Moon will move even closer to it by dawn.

  • Mars and Antares

    Mars passes its legendary “rival” the next few evenings — the star Antares, at the heart of Scorpius. The two are in the southwestern quadrant of the sky, with the planet Saturn looking down on them. The name “Antares” means “rival of Mars.”

  • Sun and Regulus

    If we could see the stars behind the Sun now, we would notice that it is almost touching Regulus, the heart of the lion. The Sun crossed into Leo almost two weeks ago, and it won’t exit the constellation until next month.

  • Other Suns

    Chara is one of the brightest stars Canes Venatici, the hunting dogs. It’s in the west-northwest at nightfall, between the bright star Arcturus and the Big Dipper. Chara is almost exactly the same mass as the Sun, and a bit bigger and brighter.

  • Evening Lights

    Plenty of bright stars decorate the sky on warm summer evenings. Among others, yellow-orange Arcturus is in the west, red-orange Antares is low in the southwest, and bright white Vega stands high overhead.

  • Water Carriers

    A couple of implements for holding water bracket the midnight sky at this time of year. The teapot of Sagittarius is low in the south, with the Big Dipper about the same height in the north-northwest.

  • Great Square

    The Great Square of Pegasus rises in the east not long after sunset, promising the return of some of autumn’s best-known constellations. The square’s corners are marked by the bright stars Alpheratz, Scheat, Markab, and Algenib.

  • Full Moon

    The Moon will be full at 4:27 a.m. CDT tomorrow as it lines up opposite the Sun in Earth’s sky. The full Moon of August is known as the Grain Moon or Green Corn Moon.

  • Betelgeuse

    The bright orange star Betelgeuse is in the east at first light. It is a type of star known as a supergiant. It is most of the way through its life, and may explode in 100,000 years — or as soon as tonight.

  • Bow and Arrow

    The brightest stars of Sagittarius form the outline of a teapot, with the handle to the left and the spout to the right. In ancient times, its stars were seen as a centaur holding a bow and arrow. The bow is traced by an arc of three stars in the teapot, including the brightest star in the constellation.

  • Capricornus

    As the Sun sets tonight, the constellation Capricornus is just rising in the southeast. Its brightest stars form a wide triangle that resembles the bottom of a bikini bathing suit. It is bright enough to see even from mildly light-polluted areas.

  • Dog Days

    Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is climbing into view in the southeast at dawn. It is the brightest star of Canis Major, the big dog, so it’s known as the Dog Star. In ancient times, its first dawn showing ushered in the Dog Days of summer.

  • Moon and Companions

    Look for the planet Saturn to the lower right of the Moon tonight, shining like a bright star. The even brighter planet Mars is farther along the same line. And the star Antares, the heart of the scorpion, is below Saturn.

  • Moon and More

    As evening twilight fades, look for the Moon at the top right of a diamond of bright objects. The brightest one after the Moon is Mars, directly below the Moon. The planet Saturn is closer to the lower left of the Moon, with the star Antares below Saturn.

  • Perseid Meteors

    The Perseid meteor shower is under way, building toward its expected peak tomorrow night. The Moon sets early enough to provide several hours of dark skies for watching the fireworks.

  • Sadr

    A yellow supergiant star known as Sadr connects the body and wings of Cygnus, the swan, which is high in the east as night falls. Sadr is close to the upper right of Deneb, a blue supergiant that’s the constellation’s brightest star.

  • Mars and Delta Scorpii

    Mars is butting heads with the scorpion. The planet is quite near Delta Scorpii, the star in the middle of the head of Scorpius. They are in the south at nightfall. Mars looks like a bright orange star, with Delta Scorpii close above it.

  • Moon and Spica

    Spica, the brightest star of the constellation Virgo, stands to the left of the crescent Moon tonight. Observations of Spica two millennia ago demonstrated that the stars slowly shift position relative to the Sun.

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