Sky Spy: Coming: a stellar pre-dawn show

2013-08-22T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T15:24:03Z Sky Spy: Coming: a stellar pre-dawn showTim Hunter Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The morning sky is gorgeous this time of year, giving us a glimpse of our coming winter evenings.

Between 4:30 and 5 a.m. is a good time to look at the predawn eastern sky. Orion the Hunter is well above the horizon, and even blazing Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, will be about 15 degrees above the southeastern horizon.

To the left (north) of Orion is Gemini the Twins with its bright stars of Castor and Pollux, Castor being slightly more toward the north and higher above the horizon than Pollux.

Right in the middle of Gemini is Jupiter, which is always bright and easily visible. Friday morning Castor, Jupiter, and Betelgeuse in the shoulder of Orion will form a straight line from left to right. Mars hangs a little below Castor and Pollux.

To the right (south) of Mars closer to the horizon is Procyon in Canis Minor the Lesser Dog.

Even though it may be difficult to rise early on a Sunday morning, give it a try this Sunday. Castor, Pollux, and Jupiter will form a nearly perfect isosceles triangle with Jupiter at its apex.

Castor, Pollux, and Mars will form a straight line running from top to bottom, and Castor, Jupiter, and Betelgeuse will also be in a straight line running from left to right. Top off this geometry lesson by looking north to find Polaris and the Little Dipper with its bright bowl star Kochab hanging as low in the sky as it ever gets.

Moon Watch

There is presently a waning (growing smaller) gibbous (more than half lit) moon that will be at last quarter next Wednesday. The moon rises at 7:58 tonight, brightening our evening skies for the next several days. The monsoon always threatens to cloud our evening skies, but it is often clear after midnight.

Contact Tim Hunter at

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