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.

Solar Eclipse

The afternoon sky will get a little darker than normal for most of the United States tomorrow afternoon during a partial solar eclipse. The Moon will cover part of the Sun’s disk for a few minutes, although the Sun will be too bright to view directly.

Solar Eclipse II

The Moon is “new” at 4:57 p.m. CDT today. At that moment, it will be partially covering the Sun’s disk, creating a partial solar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible across the United States, although the East Coast will miss its final stages.

Polaris

The Pole Star, Polaris, stands due north every night of the year. To find it, line up the stars at the outer edge of the bowl of the Big Dipper. Then follow that line up and away from the bowl until you come to the first moderately bright star.

Capella

Capella is one of the brightest beacons in the night sky. The yellow-orange star is in good view in the northeast by mid-evening, and stands high overhead a couple of hours before dawn. It’s the sixth-brightest star system in all the night sky, so it’s hard to miss.

Lucky Stars

To “thank your lucky stars,” look toward the constellation Aquarius, which is well up in the east by early evening. The names of three of its stars — Sadalmelik, Sadalsuud, and Sadachbia — are from Arabic names that mean “luck” or “lucky.”

Moon and Mars

Mars is sliding against the background of stars at about the same rate at which that background is moving from night to night. As a result, Mars will appear at almost the same point in the southwest in the evening sky for the next several weeks.

Crescent Moon

A thick crescent Moon pops into view low in the south-southwest at nightfall. As the sky grows darker, the entire lunar disk should become visible, because the dark portion of the Moon is illuminated by sunlight reflected off of Earth.

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