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.

Moon and Venus

Venus, the “morning star,” perches just to the lower left of the crescent Moon at dawn tomorrow. As long as you have a clear eastern horizon you just can’t miss them.

61 Virginis

61 Virginis is one of the nearest star systems with known planets. Under dark skies, the star is bright enough to see with the unaided eye. It is a little below Spica, Virgo’s brightest star, which is due south a couple of hours after sunset.

Beta Coma Berenices

Tonight, you can see a star that shows us roughly what the Sun would look like seen from 30 light-years away. That’s how far it is to Beta Comae Berenices, a Sun-like star that’s south of the Big Dipper’s handle in the faint constellation Coma Berenices.

Loopy Planet

Bright orange Mars is high in the southeast at nightfall. Spica, the brightest star of Virgo, is close to its lower left. Mars is moving away from Spica, but soon will head toward the star as it completes its retrograde motion across the sky.

Distant Planets

The two most distant planets that are easily visible to the unaided eye bracket the sky late this evening. Jupiter, which is the brightest object in the sky at that time, is in the west around 10 p.m., with golden Saturn low in the east-southeast.

New Moon

The Moon is new today as it slips between Earth and the Sun, beginning a new cycle of phases. It will return to view as a thin crescent quite low in the west shortly after sunset tomorrow evening.


Hydra, the water snake, slithers low across the sky on spring evenings. Its faint head is in the southwest at nightfall, with its sinuous body stretching far to the left of the head.


©2014 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory