Stars, planets, the Moon, constellations -- daily sky sights for the unaided eye, binoculars and telescopes
This week Venus shines in the west during twilight. Jupiter glares in the southeast at nightfall, and Mars and Saturn rise late at night.
Want to become a better astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations! They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.
Keep an eye on the changing pattern of Venus with Aldebaran and the Pleiades, in the west as twilight fades.
Friday, April 20 • This evening the dark limb of the crescent Moon will occult 4th-magnitude multiple star Nu Geminorum, in the feet of Gemini, for parts of the southern U.S. and points south. For rough time estimates at your location, interpolate between the time predictions in the April Sky & Telescope, page 48. Saturday,…
After dark, Leo walks horizontally across the meridian high in the south. His brightest star is Regulus, the bottom star of Leo's Sickle.
The two Dog Stars stand vertically aligned around the end of twilight. Look southwest. Brilliant Sirius in Canis Major is below; Procyon in Canis Minor is high above.
After nightfall, Orion is still well up in the southwest in his spring orientation: striding down to the right, with his belt horizontal. Shining above the belt is bright orange Betelgeuse. Down below the belt is bright white Rigel.
The first-quarter Moon shines high above Orion on the evening of March 24, 2018, in the feet of Gemini below Castor and Pollux.
Watch the low in the east-northeast for the rise of the "Spring Star," Arcturus. Find the Big Dipper high in the northeast and follow the curve of its handle far around and down to see where Arcturus will be.
Friday, March 9 • Just after twilight fades away this week, bright Sirius stands due south on the meridian. Sirius is the bottom star of the equilateral Winter Triangle. The Triangle's other two stars are orange Betelgeuse (Orion's shoulder) to Sirius's upper right, and Procyon to Sirius's upper left. • In early dawn Saturday…
Mercury and much brighter Venus glow shyly side by side very low in the west in twilight early in the week, then they slowly pull farther apart.
Friday, February 23 • First-quarter Moon (exact at 3:09 a.m. on this date EST). For North America this evening, the Moon shines left or upper left of Aldebaran, and farther upper right of Orion, as shown here. The Moon occults Aldebaran in daylight or twilight for northern and western Europe, and in darkness for…
Now the waxing crescent Moon is easier to see in the west-southwest after sunset. Its curved side points the way down toward Venus.
Sirius the Dog Star blazes in the southeast after dinnertime, the brightest star of Canis Major. Orion stands high to its upper right.
The Winter Hexagon fills the sky toward the east and south these evenings. Start with brilliant Sirius at its bottom. Going clockwise from there, march up through Procyon, Pollux and Castor, Menkalinan and Capella on high, down to Aldebaran, then to Rigel in Orion's foot, and back to Sirius.
The Moon, two days past first quarter, shines to the right of Aldebaran and lower left of the Pleiades. The Great Square of Pegasus is sinking in the west.
Sirius twinkles brightly below Orion in the southeast. Around 8 p.m. Sirius shines straight below Betelgeuse in Orion's shoulder.
Friday, January 12 • Sirius, the Dog Star, rises in the east-southeast around the end of twilight now, if you're near latitude 40° north (New York, Denver, Madrid, Athens). From such latitudes, Procyon — left of Sirius, by 2½ fists at arm's length — precedes it up; "Procyon" is from the ancient Greek for "before…
Orion strides up the southeastern sky after nightfall in January. Above it glitters Aldebaran. Above Aldebaran are the Pleiades. Far left of them shines Capella.
In the evening sky tonight, look lower left of the waxing gibbous Moon for Aldebaran, and upper left of the Moon for the Pleiades.
Sirius, the Dog Star, sparkles low in the east-southeast after dinnertime. Procyon, the Little Dog Star, shines in the east to Sirius's left.
As the Summer Triangle sinks in the west, Altair is the first of its stars to go. Start by spotting bright Vega in the northwest at nightfall. The brightest star above it is Deneb. Altair is farther to Vega's lower left.
Astronomy is an outdoor nature hobby. For an easy constellation guide to the evening sky, use the map in the center of Sky & Telescope magazine.
Now that the Pleiades and Aldebaran are up in due east, can Orion be far behind? Orion's entire iconic figure, formed by its brightest seven stars, takes about an hour and a quarter to cross the horizon below them.