Minnesota Starwatch for December 2021

By Deane Morrison, U of M After a long stint as an evening “star,” Venus plunges into the sunset on its next trip between Earth and the sun. It’s a short trip, though; in less than a month, Venus reappears in the morning sky. Jupiter remains a beacon in the southwest, while dimmer Saturn shimmers…

Minnesota Starwatch for October 2021

By Deane Morrison, U of M October’s darkening skies provide a backdrop for planetary maneuvers and the unending stream of stars across the celestial stage. As Venus holds its position above the sunset horizon, Saturn, followed by much brighter Jupiter, heads westward with the stars of Capricornus. On the 9th, red Antares, the heart of…

Minnesota Starwatch for August 2021

By Deane Morrison, University of Minnesota Jupiter and Saturn are at their best of the year this month, thanks to Earth lapping them in the race around the sun. When Earth laps a planet, the event is called opposition because Earth passes directly between the planet and the sun, making the planet appear opposite the…

Minnesota Starwatch for May 2021

By Deane Morrison, U of M As the winter constellations head into the sunset, Mars struggles to avoid the same fate. May Day finds the red planet on course to glide between the bright stars Procyon, in Canis Minor, to the east, and Capella, in Auriga, the charioteer, to the west. At the end of…

Minnesota Starwatch for August 2020

By Deane Morrison, U of M Summer may fade in August, but that brings darker skies and longer hours to watch stars and planets. The month starts out with a nearly full moon rising the evening of the 2nd. That night it follows Saturn and brilliant Jupiter across the sky, becoming full at 10:59 a.m.…

Minnesota Starwatch for February

By Deane Morrison, University of Minnesota A dazzling evening “star,” Venus comes out in twilight and sticks around long enough to outshine all the real stars against a dark sky. So bright is our sister planet, it has been mistaken for a UFO. Watch it climb in the southwest throughout the month, and be sure…

Minnesota starwatch for Feb. 2019

By Deane Morrison, University of Minnesota February opens with Venus and Jupiter lighting up the southeastern predawn sky. As the month goes by, Venus drops toward the rising sun while Jupiter, now higher than Venus, rapidly pulls away westward. Saturn, following Jupiter, passes Venus between the 17th and 19th. On the 28th, Jupiter, a waning moon,…

Minnesota Starwatch, January 2019

By Deane Morrison January opens on the first steps in a graceful predawn dance between Venus and Jupiter. Not to be outdone, the evening sky answers with a total eclipse of a “supermoon” in mid-month. As the sky awaits the first sunrise of 2019, we’re treated to a crescent moon hanging above bright Venus, with…

Minnesota Starwatch for October 2018

By Deane Morrison October’s dark and often clear skies are perfect for enjoying the fall constellations. Some of them are fairly dim, but if you like a challenge, grab a star chart and go outside soon after nightfall. One good target is Pegasus, the winged horse, easily recognizable by its sizable Great Square high in…