Mars rises in the east around 11 p.m. daylight saving time this week, in Pisces. Watch for it to come up below the Great Square of Pegasus. By dawn Mars shines grandly high and bright in the south, a far-off bonfire in the heavens. In a telescope Mars grows from 14½ to 15½ arcseconds in apparent diameter, as big as it appears at some oppositions! But we're still speeding toward it along Earth's faster orbit around the Sun. Around this year's opposition in early October, Mars will be 22.6 arcseconds wide.
All this summer, there's no missing Jupiter and Saturn on any clear evening. Jupiter is the brightest point in the evening sky. Saturn is left of it. They're in the southeast at dusk, higher in the south later in the night. Meanwhile in the west, bright Arcturus shines a little less high each week. Most of its constellation Bootes extends to its upper right.
Travel to the ends of the Earth to experience a special — but risky — total solar eclipse in Antarctica.
The waxing crescent Moon swells back into the evening sky this week. Jupiter and Saturn are at opposition on the nights of July 13th and 20th, respectively -- so they rise around sunset, loom low in the southeast in twilight, and climb as the evening grows late. Jupiter is brightest; Saturn is 7° to its lower left. By late night they look like a pair of uneven eyes looking down at the world.
Jupiter and Saturn rise in twilight this week. Mars is a fire-beacon high in the southeast by the beginning of dawn. Venus, low as dawn begins to brighten, passes just 1° from Aldebaran on Saturday and Sunday mornings July 11th and 12th.
This is the time of year when the two brightest stars of summer, Arcturus and Vega, are equally high overhead at dusk. Arcturus is toward the southwest, Vega is toward the east. Arcturus and Vega are 37 and 25 light-years away, respectively. They represent the two commonest types of naked-eye stars: a yellow-orange K giant and a white A main-sequence star. They're 150 and 50 times brighter than the Sun, respectively — which, combined with their nearness, is why they dominate the high evening sky.
Leo the Lion is mostly a constellation of late winter and spring. But he's not gone yet. As twilight ends look due west, somewhat low, for Regulus, his brightest and now lowest star: the forefoot of the Lion stick figure. The Sickle of Leo extends upper right from Regulus. The rest of the Lion's constellation figure extends for almost three fists to the upper left, to his tail star Denebola, the highest. He'll soon be treading away into the sunset.
As we count down the days to official summer (the solstice is June 20th), the big Summer Triangle shines high and proud in the east after dark. Its top star is bright Vega. Deneb is the brightest star to Vega's lower left. Look for Altair farther to Vega's lower right.
FRIDAY, JUNE 5 ■ Catch Mercury in twilight! It's under Pollux and Castor this week, as shown below. Mercury is ending its last good evening showing until winter 2021. Mercury is still visible in the western twilight, under the heads of Gemini, but it's fading. This scene is drawn for…