Climbing into the east-southeast just after sunset, the golden-hued Saturn reaches opposition – its closest point to the Earth, 814.6 million miles away, as we pass directly between Saturn and the Sun. Well to the right of Saturn, the waxing Gibbous Moon also rises as twilight fades to night.
Below Saturn, with the waxing Gibbous Moon to the right, a bright star rises in the southeast near 10 o’clock, and crests due south just after 1 o’clock tomorrow morning, the lesser-known Fomalhaut. Even though Fomalhaut is the 13th brightest star we can see from our northern latitudes, its rather low, brief appearance often goes unnoticed.
While the Moon approaches Full, though rather low in the southeast, look to the zenith – the top of the sky – where a bright star shines with a steely-blue light. Vega ranks as the 4th brightest star in the heavens, twice as massive as our Sun, emitting 37 times more light, while converting hydrogen to helium ten times faster than the Sun.