The Moon takes aim at one of the brightest stars in the night sky tonight: Spica, the main star of the constellation Virgo. Spica is close to the lower left of the Moon as night falls, and even closer to the Moon as they set before dawn tomorrow.
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The Moon is in its “gibbous” phase, which means that sunlight illuminates more than half of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way. The dark portion of the lunar disk is in the Moon’s own shadow, so it is night on that part of our satellite world.
M13, the Hercules Cluster, stands in the east at nightfall, in the constellation Hercules. To the eye alone it looks like a small, hazy patch of light. Small telescopes reveal hundreds of the cluster’s individual stars.
Hercules is in good view in the east and northeast at nightfall and soars high overhead during the night. The most prominent portion of the constellation is the Keystone, a group of four stars that forms a lopsided square.
A bright star keeps company with the first-quarter Moon tonight. Regulus, the “heart” of Leo, the lion, stands a little above the Moon as night falls, and keeps that position as they slide down the southwestern sky later on.
One of the most important stars in the ancient world was Arcturus, in Bootes, the herdsman. The Egyptians, Greeks, and others spun legends around this bright, yellow-orange giant. Arcturus stands high in the eastern sky this evening.
As darkness falls this evening, the twins of Gemini stand above the western horizon, to the right of the Moon. Leo, the lion, is to their upper left, with Libra, the balance scales, just climbing skyward in the southeast.