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Sun Walk

StarDate: 
July 31, 2016

The Sun is passing through the middle of Cancer right now. We can’t see the constellation’s stars through the sunlight, of course, but we can see where the Sun is headed over the next few months. All you need to do is connect a few dots in the evening sky.

All of these dots lie near the ecliptic, which is the Sun’s path across the sky. The dots outline where the Sun will appear along that path into late fall.

Before the last blush of twilight drains from the evening sky, look due west for the brightest of all the dots — the planet Jupiter. It’s quite low in the sky, so you need a clear horizon to spot it. It’s so bright, though, that it’s easy to pick out.

Next, look well to the left of Jupiter, and a little higher in the sky, for Spica, the leading light of Virgo. The Sun will move into Virgo in mid-September, and pass closest to Spica in mid-October.

After that, it’ll move through the adjoining constellation Libra, then into Scorpius around Thanksgiving. And that’s where you can find three more bright dots tonight: the scorpion’s brightest star, Antares, and the planets Mars and Saturn. Mars is the brightest of the three, with Antares to its lower left, and Saturn a bit farther to the upper left. The ecliptic passes just below Saturn, and above Mars and Antares.

And by Christmas, the Sun will be standing near the “teapot” of stars that outlines Sagittarius. They’ll be invisible then, so look for them now instead, passing low across the southern sky.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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