Guam – UOG Planetarium Coordinator Pam Eastlick highlights 3 planets still visable in the evening skies this coming week.
For all the latest on Guam’s Tropical Skies go to the UOG Planetarium’s website at: http://www.guam.net/planet/Monthly-Schedule/week5.html
Guam Skies For the Week of March 26 – April 01, 2012
We still have three planets in our early evening sky and since they appear to be the three brightest stars, they’re easy to find. Venus and Jupiter are in the western sky and Venus is still shooting upward above the horizon. The presence of Jupiter has made it easy to determine just how fast Venus moves. The Earth moves pretty fast too, circling the Sun at over 66,000 mph and by the end of next month, we’ll have circled to the other side of the Sun from Jupiter and it will no longer be visible in the early evening sky.
Mars will be in our early evening sky for several months. To find it this week, just find Venus and Jupiter and turn completely around. That bright red star about halfway up above the eastern horizon isn’t a star; it’s Mars.
If you look above Mars and you have a dark sky, you’ll see a backward question mark of stars. Mars is in Leo the Lion this month and that’s the Lion’s head. The bright star above Mars is Regulus, the brightest star in the Lion and the triangle of stars below Mars is the Lion’s hindquarters.
If you scan the sky, you’ll notice that in addition to the planets, there are also an astounding number of bright stars. This week you can see five of the sky’s ten brightest stars. By this time next month, there’ll be an incredible eight of the ten brightest stars all in the sky at the same time. The only place you can see this amazing sight is the equatorial tropics.
To prepare you for viewing this stellar marathon next month, let me tell you how to find the five bright stars that are in the sky right now. Face west where the Sun disappeared and turn 90 degrees to your left. You’ll be facing south and you’ll see two bright stars, one high in the sky; the other closer to the horizon. The upper star is Sirius, the sky’s brightest star. The lower one is Canopus, the second brightest star.
The third brightest star won’t enter our early evening sky until late next month, but to find the fourth brightest, just go outside any time after 8:00 p.m. this week and face north. You’ll find the most famous northern star group, the Big Dipper. If you follow the arc made by the Dipper’s handle it will lead you to the fourth brightest star, Arcturus. And here’s a little preview of next month. If you follow the Big Dipper’s handle you can arc to Arcturus and spike on to Spica. But if you do that this week after 8 p.m. or so, you’ll find two bright stars very close together. The upper one is Spica, but the lower is not a star; it’s yet another planet that will officially enter our early evening skies next month; it’s Saturn.
The fifth brightest star isn’t a part of your five-star marathon, but it’s easy to find the sixth brightest star this week. Just find Orion the Hunter high in the western sky and look to the right of his shoulders to find Capella, the sixth brightest star.
Rigel, the seventh brightest star is easy to find because Rigel is Orion the Hunter’s right foot. Procyon, the eighth brightest star is to the east of Orion and almost straight overhead at 7:30 p.m., one hour after sunset this week. The ninth brightest star isn’t in our spring skies and the tenth brightest star will join the bright star marathon next month. It’s a rich feast! Enjoy!