What’s That Crossing the Night Sky?

(live post)

It was early, early Saturday morning, November 14. I was awake and not able to go back to sleep. I felt like I wanted to go downstairs. Eventually, I got up and went.

The house was quiet. All were asleep. Might as well have coffee and decide what I am going to do next.

Somewhere along the way, I felt “nudged” to go to the dining room. When I got there, I looked down and saw the kids’ art projects on their little table. And then, as strong nudges usually do to me… I was guided to look out the window and up into the eastern night sky.

I could not believe my eyes!

There was a huge, bright white object. It was flickering and moving rather quickly across the night sky. Or was it? Was it moving?

my first capture of Arcturus

And I stood there in total awe! What was I watching? And YES! It was definitely moving across the sky.

I quickly went upstairs and returned with my camera.

“What are you?” I asked. There was no response.

I watched as it seemed to turn and slowly/quickly head straight upward, racing high in the sky. (it seemed to turn, but did not. Later on I figured out that I moved and changed my perspective)

Arcturus seemed to turn and head straight upwards

As the sun’s early rays began to surface, the huge object, which was rather tiny now and far away, slowly faded from sight.

as morning breaks, Arcturus fades away. do you see it high above the palm tree?

About twenty minutes had passed, from the time I first saw Arcturus, until it faded out by the light of day.

Eventually, the sun did rise, perhaps in search of Arcturus.

sun rising

I went about my morning routine, trying to fathom what I just saw and soon went to the computer to find answers. In no time, I learned it was a fast moving star, called Arcturus.

Arcturus Star

Arcturus is a giant red star, even though it may appear orange to the human eye. I was not able to see any color. Apparently, stars come in a rainbow of colors. Were you aware of that?

The Arcturus star has slightly more mass than our sun, but expands that to be about 25 times bigger in diameter, than our sun.

Arcturus is fairly close to us at less than 37 light-years away. This closeness allows us to see its movement. Oddly enough, it is moving towards us, but we need a special scope to see that.

The fourth brightest star in the sky and the second brightest for the Northern Hemisphere. Arcturus is visible sometime during some part of the night for most of the year to those of the Northern Hemisphere:

  • on late spring evenings passing high overhead
  • in summer it’s high overhead shortly after dark
  • during autumn it sets by mid-evening
  • winter time is best to see it during pre-dawn hours

The bright light of Arcturus was used to help open the Chicago World Fair in 1933. How memorable!

Arcturus is a fast moving star, speeding along at about 273,000 mph/122 km/s. It is part of the Arcturus Stream which is a group of stars that move at a different angle and speed then most other stars in the Milky Way. (I had no idea! Did you?)

Arcturus is known as the Guardian of the Bear in the constellation Bootes (the herdsman). It chases Ursa Major around the sky. You can easily locate Arcturus by way of the Big Dipper. There is an old saying, “Follow the Arc to Arcturus, then speed on to Spica.” (I’ve never heard that saying. Have you?)


Follow the curve or ‘arc’ of the handle of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) in the northern sky. Extend the curve past the end of the handle (towards the horizon) and you will land on Arcturus.

It has been about a week now since I met Arcturus. Each morning, I get up early, wait for Arcturus to arrive and injoy my coffee in great company. The simple pleasures of life….

PS – I wish I had posted this sooner, when Arcturus was closer and much bigger looking than now.

Injoy life, in joy
Always, in all ways


sky and telescope .org
nine planets org


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