Weekly Stargazing Tips

Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii). Check out last week's tips if you missed a night.


To the people of ancient Persia, four bright stars ruled the night sky — the “guardians of heaven.” The guardian of the southern sky is Fomalhaut, which is low in the southeast not long after nightfall.

Fomalhaut II

Look low in the southeast this evening and you’ll see a bright white star but not much else. This bright star, Fomalhaut, has no other bright stars around it, so it’s sometimes called the Solitary One.

Autumn Preview

Autumn is barely underway, but you can get a preview of the winter sky this week before dawn. Taurus, the bull, is high overhead. Orion stands to its southeast, with Sirius, the sky’s brightest star, low in the south-southeast.

Evening Stars

A handful of bright stars fills the evening sky. Around 10 p.m., yellow Capella is low in the northeast, while bright white Fomalhaut is in the south. In the west, Deneb, Vega, and Altair form the Summer Triangle.

Moon in Aquarius

The Moon is passing through Aquarius tonight. The water bearer’s two brightest stars, Alpha and Beta Aquarii, are to the upper right of the Moon. They are so faint, however, that they are tough to see through the moonlight.

Uranus at Opposition

Uranus, the solar system’s third-largest planet, is putting in its best showing of the year. It rises at sunset and is in the sky all night. It’s brightest for the year as well, although you need binoculars to see it.

Lunar Eclipse

A total lunar eclipse will be visible before dawn tomorrow. It begins at 4:15 a.m. CDT, when the Moon first touches Earth’s dark inner shadow. The Moon will be fully immersed in the shadow about an hour later, beginning the total eclipse.


©2014 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory