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USPS Star Calendar for 30 December-5 January 23 December 2012

Posted by amedalen in December 2012.
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31 Dec    The moon rises 3½ hours after sunset, followed shortly by Regulus to the lower left. At midnight, they are midway up the eastern sky with the Big Dipper to the left, standing on its handle to celebrate the New Year.

1 Jan    Rising 4½ hours after sunset, the waning gibbous moon is well above the eastern horizon at midnight. Magnitude 1.3 Regulus is 4 finger-widths to the moon’s upper left, and the Big Dipper stands on its handle 5 fist-widths to the left.

2 Jan    Regulus is 1 fist-width to the moon’s upper right, high in the southwest before dawn. More than 75 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. Earth is at perihelion, its closest approach to the sun at 0.98330 AU or 147,099,000 kilometers away.

3 Jan    From left to right, Jupiter, Spica, the moon and Regulus form a nearly straight line in the southwest before dawn.

4 Jan    For those in the U.S., the moon is at last quarter late tonight.

5 Jan    Magnitude 1.2 Spica is 2 finger-widths to the moon’s left, high in the south before dawn. Magnitude 0.6 Saturn is 1½ fist-widths to Spica’s lower left.

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USPS Star Calendar for 23-29 December 16 December 2012

Posted by amedalen in December 2012.
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24 Dec    The Pleiades Cluster is 2 finger-widths to the left or upper left of the moon tonight. Magnitude -2.8 Jupiter is 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower left, and magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is 2 finger-widths to Jupiter’s lower right.

25 Dec    The heavens have a present for us early tonight as the moon passes within 0.42 degrees of Jupiter in the east. The moon is just below Jupiter, and Aldebaran is 2 finger-widths to the moon’s lower right. The moon is at apogee, 63.67 Earth-radii (406,000 kilometers) away.

27 Dec    Orion and the moon rise at sunset, and by midnight, they dominate the southern sky along with Jupiter 2½ fist-widths to the moon’s right and the Gemini Twins 2 fist-widths to the left. The Big Dipper stands on its handle to the Twins’ lower left.

28 Dec    Procyon is 1½ fist-widths to the moon’s lower right tonight.

29 Dec    Procyon is 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower right this evening, and the Gemini Twins are the same distance to the upper left.

USPS Star Calendar for 16-22 December 9 December 2012

Posted by amedalen in December 2012.
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16 Dec    In the southwest at dusk, the thin waxing crescent moon is about 10 percent illuminated.

18 Dec    High in the southwest early tonight, magnitude 1.3 Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, is more than 5 fist-widths to the moon’s upper right. In one story, Orpheus, who sang and played his lyre so beautifully that wild animals and trees came to hear him, was transformed into a Swan after his death and placed next to his lyre, Lyra.

20 Dec    The Great Square of Pegasus is above the first-quarter moon at dusk.

21 Dec    High in the south tonight, the moon is surrounded by many lower-magnitude stars. About 3 hours after sunset, magnitude 2.1 Alpheratz is a little more than 2 fist-widths to the moon’s upper right. Magnitude 2.0 Mira is 2 fist-widths to the moon’s lower left. Magnitude 2.2 Deneb Kaitos is 3 fist-widths below the moon, and magnitude 2.2 Hamal is 1½ fist-widths to the moon’s upper left. Today marks the first day of winter, the winter solstice, as the sun reaches its farthest distance below the celestial equator. This is the last day of the 13th baktun in the Long Count of the Mayan Calendar. The official end is 1111 UT.

22 Dec    Today is the first day of the 14th baktun in the Long Count of the Mayan Calendar.

USPS Star Calendar for 9-15 December 2 December 2012

Posted by amedalen in December 2012.
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9 Dec    Spica is less than 1 finger-width above the moon before dawn.

10 Dec    The waning crescent moon is 2 finger-widths to Saturn’s lower right this morning.

11 Dec    Before first light, the moon is 1 finger-width to the Venus’ lower right, and Mercury is 3 finger-widths to its lower left.

12 Dec    The moon has now passed Mercury and is quickly lost in dawn’s early light. The moon is at perigee, 55.99 Earth-radii (357,000 kilometers) away.

13 Dec    The Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight with no moon to interfere, making this a good viewing opportunity.

14 Dec    Look low in the west at dusk to see Mars 3 finger-widths to the left or upper left of the thin waxing crescent moon. Only a thin sliver of the moon is illuminated.

15 Dec    Mars is 4 finger-widths below the moon tonight. Only about 5 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

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.