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Sun Moves

December 18, 2010

As the last glow of twilight fades away, the zodiac arcs high across the southern half of the sky. It's a trail of constellations with one main feature in common: The Sun's path across the sky, the ecliptic, traverses their borders. That means that during the year, the Sun passes through each of those constellations. So by following the zodiac this evening, you can see where the Sun will travel over the next six months or so.

The path begins a little south of due west, with Sagittarius. Most of the constellation is below the horizon by nightfall, stretching toward the Sun. In fact, the Sun is just entering the constellation's western end. It'll cross the rest of Sagittarius over the next few weeks.

To the upper left of Sagittarius, the ecliptic crosses triangle-shaped Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces. The planet Jupiter straddles the border between Aquarius and Pisces right now. It's the brightest point of light in the sky at that hour, so it's hard to miss.

Next, the ecliptic curves downward through Aries and into Taurus, the bull. That's where the Moon is, standing just a few degrees from the little Pleiades star cluster. The Sun will stand in just about that same spot in May. And below Taurus, over in the east, is Gemini, the twins, which is just climbing skyward.

During the night, the remaining constellations of the zodiac will wheel into view as well, all the way back to Sagittarius, which rises with the Sun.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2010


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