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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Astronomy

01 Dec 2016
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Evening twilight: Venus rules! You won’t fail to notice this brilliant light in the southwest at dusk. Look for Mars to its upper left, and, for the first two or three weeks of December, Mercury to Venus’ lower right, provided you have an unobstructed view. The moon passes through this section of sky Nov. 30-Dec. 5. The Summer Triangle of Vega, Altair, and Deneb is not far west of overhead in twilight in early December, and drifts westward as this month progresses. Blue-white Vega is next in brightness after Venus among objects visible in December’s evening twilight. Yellow Capella in the northeast is almost as bright. To Capella’s lower right, red-orange in color, is Aldebaran, eye of Taurus, the Bull, ascending in the east-northeast to east. Later in the month, Orion’s brightest stars, reddish Betelgeuse and bluish Rigel, rise almost together not far from due east. In December at dusk,…
27 Oct 2016
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Brilliant Venus (magnitude -4.0) and fainter Saturn ( +0.5) are 4.5 degrees apart in the southwest at dusk on Nov. 1, but Venus speeds away while Saturn sinks into the solar glare, widening the gap between them to nearly 15 degrees by Nov. 11, and to 22 degrees by Nov. 18. Use binoculars to watch Venus pass background stars in Ophiuchus and Sagittarius on Nov. 4, 16, 17, and 22. Venus sets farthest south Nov. 14. By month’s end, Venus brightens to magnitude -4.2 and is noticeably higher than it was at the start of November. A telescope shows Venus in gibbous phase, 70 percent full at month’s end. Wonderful changes will happen in coming months, before Venus departs from the evening sky in late March. Mercury (magnitude -0.5) passes 3.5 degrees south (to the lower left) of Saturn on Nov. 23, but they’ll both be very low in the…
28 Sep 2016
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On Thursday morning, Sept. 29, a beautiful sight will reward early risers who go out to enjoy the brightening dawn 45 minutes to an hour before sunrise: About 5:45 a.m. in the Coachella Valley that morning, very low, almost directly east, a slender, crescent old moon will be suspended just 2 degrees below Mercury. Other sights in the morning sky through October include Sirius, the brightest star, well up in the south-southeast, and the rest of the Winter Hexagon’s stars—in clockwise order, Procyon, Pollux (and Castor, not shown), Capella, Aldebaran and Rigel, with Betelgeuse inside. Other bright stars include Canopus, very low in the south, the second brightest star (easier to see later in the month, when it reaches its high point, due south, earlier in a darker sky), and Regulus, heart of Leo, the Lion, in the east. The old moon of Sept. 29 is followed by the new…

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