The sculpture of streaking jets at the entrance of the Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road, appears to be heading to the moon, which will shine seven percent brighter than normal, astronomers say. The jets at the entrance of the Pima Air and Space Museum appear to be flying to the moon on the Winter Solstice.

The winter (December) solstice is at 9:28 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 21 when the sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky. The winter solstice is the official beginning of winter, and it marks the shortest day of the year, though the lengths of daylight a few days before and a few days after the winter solstice are about the same.

Friday morning in the southeast at 6:30 a.m. bright Jupiter is 0.7 degree to the left (north) of the star Zubenelgenubi in Libra the Scales. Seven degrees above Jupiter is red Mars. Very low on the eastern horizon is Mercury which is eight degrees to the left (north) of Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion rising along the horizon.

To the left (north) of Zubenelgenubi is another bright star Zubeneschamali. Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali are two of my most favorite stars because of their weird names, and they are easily recognizable old friends in this part of the sky. I have to always be careful to look up their proper spelling whenever I write about them.

In ancient times they were considered to be the outstretched claws of Scorpius the Scorpion, since they lie northwest of Scorpius. Zubenelgenubi is derived from an Arabic phrase meaning the Scorpion’s southern claw, while Zubeneschamali is the northern claw.

These two stars are not related to each other, and they are actually in Libra the Scales, a dim constellation otherwise not easily found. Give them a try.

Contact Tim Hunter at skys py@tucson.com

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