Follow the Arc to Spica, or Jupiter

   There is an ‘old’ Astronomical saying, a sort of memory aid, for finding at least two constellations by way of their alpha, or brightest star in their respective constellation. In Bootes the Herdsman there is the orange-reddish star Arcturus, and in Virgo the Harvest Maiden the bluish-white star Spica. The saying – “follow the arc to Arcturus, then speed to Spica” is how you connect these two stars with the curve, or arc, in the handle of the Big Dipper. This is typically done during the Northern Hemisphere spring and summer season when Bootes and Virgo are in the evening skies. However during the late autumn and winter months in the Northern Hemisphere this memory aid works best in the early morning skies before the Sun rises.
   So despite the graphic showing the morning sky for December 8th you could go out any morning for the next few months and find the 7 stars making up the Big Dipper. Then look for the curved handle and follow the arc or curved handle toward Arcturus and then continue on to Spica, or for the time being, the planet Jupiter.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

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