Sky Spy: Big Dipper, its neighbors light up the night sky

2013-05-02T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T16:48:04Z Sky Spy: Big Dipper, its neighbors light up the night skyTim Hunter Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Moon Watch

The moon is at last quarter. It rose at 1:10 this morning and will set at 12:23 this afternoon. It rises Friday at 1:40 a.m. The evening sky is without the moon for a week since new moon is next Thursday.

The Big Dipper is part of Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

Its bright stars really look like a "big dipper" in the sky, while the fainter stars in the rest of the constellation are harder to find.

In the early evening this time of the year, the Big Dipper gets as high in the sky above the northern horizon as it can get.

If you look north around 9:30 p.m., you will see the Big Dipper upside down pouring its heavenly good will onto the North Star and the northern horizon.

The handle of the Big Dipper consists of three bright stars and curves toward the east pointing to the bright orange star Arcturus in Boötes the Herdsman.

Arcturus is the fourth-brightest star in the sky and usually visible even in very light polluted skies.

If you look south and slightly west of Arcturus, you will find the constellation of Virgo the Virgin with its bright star Spica, the 16th-brightest star in the sky. Spica has a blue/blue-white color that contrasts with the orange or reddish color of Arcturus.

A little below and toward the right (west) of Spica are four relatively bright stars that look like a misshapen square narrower at the top then at the bottom. That is Corvus the Crow.

Like many constellations, Corvus resembles not at all what it is supposed to represent.

Learn more

Friday's meeting of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association will start with a talk about the advantages of placing infrastructure between the Earth and the moon's orbit, including the use of telerobotics, and how this might contribute to the general development of space science.

Next, the meeting turns to "Astronomical Misconceptions and Little-Known Astronomical Facts," presented as an open-mic night so the audience can take part.

The free event starts at 6:30 p.m. in Room 308 of the Kuiper Space Sciences Building, 1629 E. University Blvd., on the University of Arizona campus.

Contact Tim Hunter at skyspy@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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