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USPS Star Calendar for 2-8 December 25 November 2012

Posted by amedalen in December 2012.
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2 Dec    By midnight, the moon sits high in the east with magnitude 0.5 Procyon 1 fist-width to the right, the Gemini Twins 1½ fist-widths to the upper left, and the Big Dipper standing on its handle far to the lower left.

3 Dec    Jupiter is at opposition (on the opposite side of the earth from the sun).

4 Dec    Late tonight, Regulus is nearly 3 finger-widths to the waning gibbous moon’s left. About 75 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation 20.5 degrees west of the sun, which means it sets nearly an hour after the sun.

5 Dec    High in the south before dawn, Regulus is 2 finger-widths above the moon. Using binoculars, see if you can spot the two stars between them, magnitude 4.9 pi Leonis and magnitude 4.6 31 Leonis

6 Dec    With the moon rising well after midnight, tonight’s dark skies make for good stargazing. At dusk, look for Cygnus, the Swan, high in the west at dusk. First find the Summer Triangle’s three bright stars: Altair at the lower left corner, Vega at the lower right corner, and Deneb at the top. Magnitude 2.3 Sadr is 3 finger-widths to Deneb’s lower left. The two stars 4 finger-widths at right angles from Sadr make up the wings. Continuing in a straight line from Deneb through Sadr another 1½ fist-widths completes the neck and head of the Swan.

8 Dec    During the next few days, look to the southeast before dawn as the moon passes by one star and three planets: Spica, Saturn, Venus and Mercury. This morning, the moon, the star and the planets line up from the upper right to the lower left. From the moon, measure 1 fist-width to the lower left to magnitude 1.2 Spica. Moving another fist-width to the lower left takes us to magnitude 0.6 Saturn. One more fist-width brings us to magnitude -4.0 Venus. Finally, 3 finger-widths beyond Venus is magnitude -0.5 Mercury.

USPS Star Calendar for 25 November-1 December 18 November 2012

Posted by amedalen in December 2012, November 2012.
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25 Nov    Magnitude 2.2 Hamal, the brightest star in the constellation Aries, the Ram, is 4 finger-widths to the moon’s upper left this evening. The Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians and Greeks all called this group of stars the Ram.

26 Nov    Venus is less than one-half finger-width from Saturn, which is to the lower left this morning and to the upper left tomorrow morning.

27 Nov    The Pleiades Cluster is to the moon’s upper left tonight.

28 Nov    The full moon passes within 0.67 degrees of Jupiter tonight. Aldebaran is 2 finger-widths to the lower right. The moon is at apogee, 63.71 Earth-radii (406,000 kilometers) away.

30 Nov    The moon rises 2 hours after sunset. Look for Betelgeuse 1 fist-width to the right and the Gemini Twins 2 fist-widths to the lower left. Magnitude 1.9 Alhena is almost 2 finger-widths to the lower right.

USPS Star Calendar for 18-24 November 11 November 2012

Posted by amedalen in November 2012.
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18 Nov    Venus and Spica rise 2½ hours before the sun.

19 Nov    Venus falls closer to the horizon and is now 2 finger-widths to Spica’s lower left.

20 Nov    Tonight is also a good night for viewing the Leonids. The first-quarter moon is high in the south at nightfall. Most nearby stars are third magnitude or dimmer. Magnitude 0.9 Altair is nearly 4 fist-widths to the upper right, and magnitude 1.3 Fomalhaut is 2½ fist-widths to the lower left. How many lower-magnitude stars can you spot near the moon? Magnitude 3.2 Sadalmelik is 2 finger-widths to the upper right, and magnitude 3.0 Deneb Algedi is 1 fist-width to the lower right.

21 Nov    High in the south at dusk, the Great Square of Pegasus is a couple of fist-widths above or to the upper left of the waxing gibbous moon.

24 Nov    The moon is in the constellation Pisces, the Fish. In this faint constellation none of the stars are brighter than fourth magnitude. In Greco-Roman myth, Aphrodite and her son Heros were chased by the monster Typhon. To escape they transformed into fish and tied their tails together to make sure they would never be separated. The two fish form a V in the sky where they are tied. The moon is 1 fist-width above the base of the V.

USPS Star Calendar for 11-17 November 4 November 2012

Posted by amedalen in November 2012.
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11 Nov    Rising less than 3 hours before the sun, Venus and the waning crescent moon are low in the east at dawn. Magnitude 1.2 Spica is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left, and magnitude 0.6 Saturn is 1 fist-width beyond Spica near the horizon. Watch as they disappear in the sun’s glow.

12 Nov    Saturn and the thin crescent moon rise an hour before the sun. Look quickly, as they will soon be lost in the sun’s glare.

14 Nov    The moon is at perigee, 56.03 Earth-radii (357,000 kilometers) away. With perigee occurring 12.4 hours after the new moon, we can expect higher than normal tides.

15 Nov    Mars is 3 finger-widths to the thin waxing crescent moon’s upper left low in the west at nightfall.

16 Nov    Magnitude -4.0 Venus passes close to Spica low in the east the next few mornings. Magnitude 1.2 Spica is 2 finger-widths to Venus’ lower left.

17 Nov    Compared to Spica, Venus is closer to the horizon this morning. The Leonid meteor shower peaks tonight with no moon to spoil the show.