Sky Spy

Grab a pair of binoculars to enjoy Hyades

2014-03-06T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T11:29:27Z Grab a pair of binoculars to enjoy HyadesBy Tim Hunter Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tonight look at the 6-day-old moon high in the western sky. At 7:30 p.m. it is nearly 60 degrees above the western horizon. The moon will be the right angle in a triangle formed by the Pleiades on its right and the “V” of Taurus the Bull above and to its left.

Friday night the moon will be just above the “V” of Taurus. Its brightness will overwhelm Taurus but look at this area with binoculars to see the moon and the six brightest stars in Taurus forming the “V”.

The brightest star is red Aldebaran. Scattered throughout Taurus are fainter stars all of which compose the Hyades, a relatively close cluster of stars traveling through space together. Most of the stars in Taurus belong to the Hyades cluster except Aldebaran, which is between us and the background cluster. Return to Taurus and the Hyades when the moon is out of the way and enjoy the multitude of stars in the Hyades with binoculars or a low-power telescope.

The morning sky also is worth observing. If you look toward the east between 6 and 6:30 a.m., you will see ever brilliant Venus 20 to 30 degrees above the horizon. Venus is so bright I have seen it shine through haze and thin clouds many times. Let’s hope it is clear so you can also see Mercury low on the eastern horizon. Mercury is bright but hard to see as it never gets more than 28 degrees from the sun, which means it is visible only in the early evening just after sunset or in the early morning just before sunrise. Mercury is so elusive there is an rumor the famous astronomer Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) never saw it.

Contact Tim Hunter at

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