I got home late last night after looking at Saturn, a dozen galaxies and a beautiful star cluster in my telescope from a dark place north of home. The house was quiet but a light was on in my older daughter’s room.
"Dad, can you give me a back rub?" she asked after I’d removed my heavy coat and insulated pants. I was ready for bed but how could I refuse? She enjoyed the rub as we talked about the little events of the day. And my hands came back to earth as they were warmed by the massage. Returning home to a welcoming voice after a night of observing is a wonderful thing.
The Clear Sky Chart indicates clear skies early this evening. That’s a good thing since we’ll finally get the opportunity to see the tag team of the International Space Station (ISS) and Jules Verne cargo ship make some passes through our evening sky. The Space Shuttle Endeavor (STS-123) is scheduled to land around 6 p.m. tonight otherwise it would be visible too.
I’ve listed a few times below for the Duluth-Superior area. As always, go to www.heavens-above.com for times for your location. Jules Verne preceeds the ISS by about four minutes and though not as bright, it’s still easy to see.
* Tonight: Jules Verne visible 8:55-57 p.m. in the south-southwest about three outstretched fists above the horizon. The ISS will follow the same path from 8:59-9:01 p.m.
* Tomorrow March 27: Jules Verne from 9:17-19 p.m. halfway up in the sky. The ISS will follow from 9:21-23 p.m.
The Winter Hexagon / created with Stellarium
While you’re out, why not try to find the grand arrangement of bright winter stars called the Winter Hexagon. Start with Sirius, the brightest, and located nearly due south at 8:30 p.m. Work your way up to Procyon (in Canis Minor), Pollux and Castor (Gemini), Capella (Auriga), Aldebaran (Taurus) and down to Rigel in Orion. Notice that the hexagon corrals two other luminaries: Mars and Betelgeuse. All these bright stars sparkling in fading twilight is a sight not to miss.