Textbook views of the Milky Way show a bar of stars in the middle with several spiral arms wrapping around it. But that picture is incomplete. In fact, astronomers are still trying to develop a complete and accurate diagram of our home galaxy.
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Last Week's Stargazing Tips
January 23: Milky Way Mapping
January 22: Moon and Regulus
The star Regulus stands just a whisker away from the Moon tonight. They climb into good view by about 8:30 or 9 p.m., with the lion’s bright heart to the right of the Moon.
January 21: Gamma Cass
Gamma Cassiopeiae, the middle point of the letter M or W formed by Cassiopeia, is a busy star system. The main star is surrounding itself with a disk of gas and dust, it’s interacting with an invisible companion, and it’s building up to an impressive demise.
January 20: Lunar Eclipse
A total lunar eclipse will shine through American skies tonight. It gets under way at 9:34 p.m. CST, when the lunar disk first touches Earth’s dark inner shadow. It will take the Moon about an hour to become fully immersed in the shadow, creating the total eclipse.
January 19: Lambda Draconis
Lambda Draconis, the star at the end of the tail of Draco, the dragon, is puffing up. It is about 70 times wider than the Sun and almost 900 times brighter. The star is low in the north at nightfall, with the rest of the dragon stretching to its left.
January 18: Supermoon
A supermoon is coming on Sunday night. The Moon will be full only half a day before it reaches its closest point to Earth, so it will look a bit bigger and brighter than average. It coincides with a total lunar eclipse, as the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow.
January 17: More Moon and Aldebaran
Aldebaran, the star that represents the eye of Taurus, the bull, stands close to the upper right of the Moon this evening. Aldebaran is nearing the end of its life, so it has puffed up to several dozen times the diameter of the Sun.