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USPS Star Calendar for 23 February-1 March 16 February 2014

Posted by amedalen in February 2014, March 2014.
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23 Feb    The moon spends the next three days traveling between Saturn and Venus. This morning Saturn is 2 fist-widths to the moon’s upper right, and Venus is 3½ fist-widths to the lower left.

24 Feb    Venus is 2 fist-widths to the moon’s lower left, and Saturn is 3½ fist-widths to the moon’s upper right.

25 Feb    The waning crescent moon is now less than 1 fist-width to Venus’ upper right. Only 25 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

26 Feb    The moon passes to Venus’s lower left today.

27 Feb    The moon is at perigee, 56.57 Earth-radii (360,000 kilometers) away. Before the sky gets too bright this morning, look for Mercury less than 2 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left. Only two days before new, the moon is less than 10 percent illuminated.

28 Feb    With a new moon early tomorrow morning, tonight is prime time for stargazing. High in the south at sunset, Jupiter is the first visible light in the evening sky. Orion stands to its lower right. Follow the three stars in Orion’s belt 2 fist-widths to the lower left to Sirius, the Dog Star, in the constellation Canis Major.

1 March   Look to the northeast at dusk to see the Big Dipper standing on its handle. The thin waxing crescent moon sets soon after the sun, making this a good opportunity to spot the Little Dipper. First find Polaris, the North Star, by following the pointer stars on the Big Dipper’s bucket 3 fist-widths to the left. Polaris marks the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. The rest of the handle arcs nearly 2 fist-widths to the lower right. The bucket hangs downward from the handle.

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USPS Star Calendar for 16-22 February 9 February 2014

Posted by amedalen in February 2014.
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16 Feb    High in the southwest at midnight, Regulus is more than 2 fist-widths to the moon’s upper right; Spica and Mars are 3 fist-widths to the lower left just above the horizon.

18 Feb    The moon rises four hours after sunset; Spica and Mars follow a half hour later. By midnight, the trio remains low in the eastern sky.

19 Feb    The moon, Spica and Mars are low in the southwest before first light. Spica is 1 finger-width to the moon’s left, and Mars is 3 finger-widths to its upper left.

20 Feb    Three planets—Mars, Saturn and Venus—are visible in the pre-dawn sky, and the moon passes all three in the next few days. Yesterday, the moon was 3 finger-widths to Mars’ lower right. This morning, it is 4 finger-widths to Mars’ lower left. Saturn is nearly 2 fist-widths to the moon’s left. Venus is far to the left, near the eastern horizon.

21 Feb    The moon is now a little more than 2 finger-widths to Saturn’s right. Mars is 2 fist-widths to the moon’s right or upper right. Later this afternoon when they are below the horizon, the moon and Saturn will pass within 0.3 degrees.

22 Feb    The last-quarter moon passes to the left of Saturn, and the bright star 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower left is magnitude 1.1 Antares.

USPS Star Calendar for 9-15 February 2 February 2014

Posted by amedalen in February 2014.
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10 Feb    Jupiter is 2 finger-widths to the moon’s upper left tonight. Magnitude 1.9 Alhena is near the moon’s lower right. The moon’s brightness may overwhelm the star, so binoculars will help. Late tonight, Mars and Spica rise side by side, little more than 2 finger-widths apart. At magnitude 0.0, Mars is noticeably brighter than magnitude 1.2 Spica.

11 Feb    The first “star” to appear at dusk is magnitude -2.5 Jupiter, 1 fist-width above the moon high in the east. As the sky darkens, magnitude 1.5 Procyon becomes visible 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower right. Next, Pollux and then Castor emerge 1 fist-width to the moon’s upper left. The equation of time is at minimum for the year, -14.25 minutes. Magnitude -4.6 Venus is at its brightest.

12 Feb    The moon is at apogee, 63.76 Earth-radii (406,000 kilometers) away.

14 Feb    Regulus rises alongside the full moon, and the pair are high in the southeast by midnight with Regulus 2 finger-widths to the moon’s upper left.

15 Feb    The moon rises an hour after sunset. The Big Dipper stands on its handle to the left near the horizon. At inferior conjunction, Mercury passes between the sun and Earth and will soon be visible in the pre-dawn sky.

USPS Star Calendar for 2-8 February 26 January 2014

Posted by amedalen in February 2014.
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2 Feb     Low in the west at dusk, the thin waxing crescent moon sets about four hours after the sun. With the moon less than 10 percent illuminated, tonight is good for stargazing. Magnitude –2.6 Jupiter dominates the eastern sky, outshining its closest neighbors, the Gemini Twins, Pollux and Castor, 1 fist-width to the lower left.

3 Feb    The moon sets a little later tonight, but we still have prime early evening stargazing. Orion lies on its side to Jupiter’s right. Look to the lower right of Orion’s belt to see the Orion Nebula, a birthplace of stars. To the naked eye, the Nebula appears as a fuzzy cloud, but it’s much clearer with binoculars.

4 Feb     The waxing crescent moon sits high in the west at dusk. Try to spot second-magnitude star magnitude 2.2 Deneb Kaitos 3 fist-widths to the lower left. The brightest object in the area, it should be easy to find.

6 Feb     The first-quarter moon is high in the southeast at dusk.

7 Feb     The moon lies midway between the Pleiades, 3 finger-widths to the upper right, and Aldebaran, the same distance to the left.

8 Feb     The waxing gibbous moon moves to Aldebaran’s left tonight. Jupiter is 2½ fist-widths farther left, and Orion is directly below the moon, which is two-thirds illuminated.

USPS Star Calendar for 26 January-1 February 19 January 2014

Posted by amedalen in February 2014, January 2014.
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26 Jan    The waning crescent moon rises four hours before the sun and is low in the south before first light. Antares, the red heart of the Scorpion, is less than 4 finger-widths below. About one-third of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

28 Jan    The thin waning crescent moon rises less than a half hour before Venus this morning. The sun follows less than two hours later. Little more than 10 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

30 Jan    The moon is at perigee, 56.05 Earth-radii (357,000 kilometers) away. With the new moon occurring less than 12 hours after perigee, we can expect tidal extremes.

31 Jan    Mercury reaches its greatest elongation east of the sun, 18.3 degrees, and is visible low in the west at dusk. Using binoculars, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the thin crescent moon to Mercury’s lower right.

1 Feb     The thin waxing crescent moon sets two and a half hours after the sun. With your binoculars, try to spot Mercury 1 fist-width below the moon.