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 Saturn

The Moon and the planet Saturn rise in late evening, with bright golden Saturn quite close to the left of the Moon. They remain close as they arc low across the south later on, with Saturn moving to the right of the Moon at first light.

Moon and the Scorpion

The star Acrab stands to the right of the Moon as they climb into view after midnight tonight. It is at the end of a short line of three stars that represents the head of Scorpius, the scorpion. Acrab is actually a system of six stars.

Changing Skies

Sunlight will illuminate more than 80 percent of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way tonight, so the Moon shines brightly. Molecules of air scatter the moonlight, filling the sky with a faint glow, which is a weaker version of daylight.

Bear’s Lodge

The stars of the Big Dipper are part of Ursa Major, the great bear. In a Kiowa story, the dipper’s seven stars represent sisters who were borne into the sky to escape their brother, who had been magically transformed into a bear.

Lyrid Meteor Shower

The Lyrid meteor shower should reach its peak tomorrow night. Under a dark sky, you might see up to a couple of dozen meteors per hour after midnight. The number of meteors increases closer to dawn, as your part of Earth turns into the meteor stream.

Last-Quarter Moon

The Moon will be at last quarter tonight. It aligns at a right angle to the line between Earth and the Sun, so sunlight illuminates one-half of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way.

Emptiness

It’s lonely here in the galactic suburbs. The distance to the Sun’s nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, is almost 29 million times the Sun’s diameter. At that scale, if you lived in a house that is 50 feet wide, your nearest neighbor would be farther than the Moon.

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