S.T.a.R.-gazing tips for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota

A good viewing spot, less than 50% cloud cover, and a dark place are all you need to view Saturn, Jupiter and the moon in the next few days.

These things, with the exception of the moon, of course, don’t happen all at once. I’ve been watching Jupiter slowly progress for the past four or five months. At a snail’s pace would be an exaggeration. Naked eye observation of this is great. A small pair of binoculars is good for a look at the shadows of the moon’s craters. Catching the moon coming up above the horizon anytime is just as good as the planet lining up.

One thing the maps show is the proximity of the moon and planets between Scorpius and its heart, the red giant Antares, and what is called the Tea Kettle. They are in our southeastern sky here at fifteen degrees north latitude. Scorpio is easiest to find by looking for the tail of the Scorpion, which we call the Fishhook out here.

The Tea Kettle is also easy to identify once you make it out. It is just to the left of the two stinger stars (called Cats Eyes, you’ll see why) in the tail of the Scorpion. Tea Kettle is a lower part of Sagittarius and I’ve never been able to make out the complete stars in that constellation. The Tea Kettle has a four stars quadrilateral as its body, one star for the top, one star for the spout, and a two-star handle that parallels the left side of the kettle. It looks like something you might find in a connect-the-dots page in a children’s magazine.
To top all this off, if it’s dark enough where you are, you will actually see what looks like steam coming out of the Tea Kettle. The “steam” will be heading up to the northeast of the kettle and down to its southwest. That “steam” stargazers see is the Milky Way and, again, if your skies are dark enough you will see it there. It also really helps if you are outside for an hour or so and in the darkest place around your area. That also is the direction toward the deepest interior of our galaxy. We are in what is known as the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way. Look up! The universe awaits!

Joey Connolly
San Jose, Tinian

Contributing Author

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