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USPS Star Calendar for 7-13 June 31 May 2015

Posted by amedalen in June 2015.
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7 Jun    High in the south before dawn, the moon is midway between Altair, 3 fist-widths to the upper right, and Fomalhaut, to the lower left.

9 Jun    Before dawn, the first-quarter moon is high in the southeast.

10 Jun    The moon is at perigee, 57.97 Earth-radii (370,000 kilometers) away.

12 Jun    Rising less than three hours before the sun, the waning crescent moon is low in the east before first light. The moon is surrounded by several second-magnitude stars: Mira 1½ fist-widths to the right or lower right, Hamal 1½ fist-widths to the upper left, Alpheratz 3 fist-widths above, and Deneb Kaitos 3 fist-widths to the lower right.

13 Jun    The equation of time is zero. Local mean time and sun time are equal.

USPS Star Calendar for 18-24 January 11 January 2015

Posted by amedalen in January 2015.
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18 Jan    Without the moon’s light, it should be easy to see a planet trio low in the west at sunset. Mercury is to the lower right of brilliant Venus, and Mars is 1½ fist-widths to the upper left.

19 Jan    Tonight is another dark night good for stargazing. Look for Gemini and Orion low in the west at dusk. Later this evening they are high in the south, while Jupiter and Leo the Lion take their place. To the left, the Big Dipper stands on its handle.

21 Jan    Low in the west at dusk, Venus is 2½ finger-widths to the moon’s left, and Mercury is 2 finger-widths below.

22 Jan   Early this evening, Mars is 2 finger-widths to the moon’s left, and Venus is 1 fist-width below.

23 Jan    Forming a straight line tonight, Mars is 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower right, and Venus is a fist-width beyond Mars.

24 Jan    High in the southwest at dusk, the thin crescent moon is in a straight line between Deneb Kaitos, 2 fist-widths to the lower left, and Alpheratz, a little farther to the upper right. Mira is 3 fist-widths to the left.

USPS Star Calendar for 13-19 July 6 July 2014

Posted by amedalen in July 2014.
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13 Jul    You’ll need binoculars to watch as Mars passes to Spica’s left. The moon is at perigee, 56.17 Earth-radii (358,000 kilometers) away. Perigee occurs 21 hours after the full moon, so we can expect tidal extremes.

15 Jul    High in the south before dawn, the bright star 2½ fist-widths to the moon’s lower left is magnitude 1.3 Fomalhaut.

16 Jul    The moon rises late tonight, making for dark skies and good stargazing. Soon after sunset look high in the northwest for the Big Dipper with its handle pointing up. As evening passes, it rotates counterclockwise and is just above the northern horizon before dawn.

17 Jul    Look to the Big Dipper’s right tonight and follow the two pointer stars at the end of the dipper 3 fist-widths to the lower right to Polaris, the North Star. Some mistakenly believe Polaris is the brightest star, but at magnitude 2.1, it’s only second magnitude. The brightest star is magnitude –1.59 Sirius, the Dog Star, which is only above the horizon during the day right now.

18 Jul    An hour before dawn, look for several second-magnitude stars within 2 and 2½ fist-widths of the moon: magnitude 2.1 Alpheratz above the moon, magnitude 2.2 Deneb Kaitos to the lower right, magnitude 2.0 Mira slightly closer and to the lower left, and magnitude 2.2 Hamal to the left.

USPS Star Calendar for 2-8 March 23 February 2014

Posted by amedalen in March 2014.
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3 Mar    The waxing crescent moon sets three hours after the sun. Less than 10 percent illuminated, the moon is surrounded by three second-magnitude stars: Alpheratz, 2½ fist-widths to the right; Mira, 2 fist-widths to the upper left; and Hamal, 2 fist-widths above.

4 Mar    Tonight the moon lies between Mira and Hamal. If you are far away from city lights, you should be able to spot the third-magnitude star 2 finger-widths below Hamal, magnitude 2.7 Sheratan. Both stars are in the constellation Aries, the Ram.

6 Mar    In the early evening, the Pleiades Cluster is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s upper right high in the west. About 25 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

7 Mar    As the sky darkens and the stars become visible, look for Aldebaran, 1 finger-width below the moon high in the southwest at sunset.

8 Mar    Several first-magnitude stars and a planet surround the moon high in the south at sunset: Magnitude 0.6 Betelgeuse is 1 fist-width to the lower left; magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is 1 fist-width to the lower right; magnitude 0.2 Capella is 2½ fist-widths to the upper right; and magnitude –2.4 Jupiter is 1½ fist-widths to the upper left.

USPS Star Calendar for 18-24 August 11 August 2013

Posted by amedalen in August 2013.
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19 Aug    The waxing gibbous moon is at perigee, 56.8 Earth-radii (225,000 miles) away.

21 Aug    Full moon at 0145 UT

22 Aug    Rising less than an hour after sunset, the moon is high in the southwest at midnight. Lean back and look straight up; the two bright stars directly overhead are magnitude 0.1 Vega in the constellation Lyra, the Lyre, and magnitude 1.3 Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. Both are part of the Summer Triangle.

24 Aug    Rising two hours after sunset, the waxing gibbous moon is low in the east by midnight. The brightest nearby stars are magnitude 2.1 Alpheratz 3 fist-widths above the moon, magnitude 2.2 Hamal 1½ fist-widths to the left and magnitude 2.3 Almach 3 fist-widths to the upper left. The slightly brighter star 1½ fist-widths to the lower left of Almach is magnitude 1.9 Mirfak in the constellation Perseus, the Hero.

USPS Star Calendar for 28 July-3 August 21 July 2013

Posted by amedalen in August 2013, July 2013.
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28 Jul    High in the south at first light, the waning gibbous moon is between Alpheratz, 2½ fist-widths to the upper right, and magnitude 2.0 Mira, 2 fist-widths to the lower left in the constellation Cetus, the Sea Monster.

29 Jul    Rising around midnight, the last-quarter moon (1743 UT) is high in the southwest before dawn tomorrow.

30 Jul    Rising 1½ hours before the sun, magnitude 0.2 Mercury reaches its greatest elongation west of the sun and should be visible before the sky brightens. With your binoculars, try spotting magnitude 1.6 Mars 3 finger-widths above Mercury and magnitude –1.9 Jupiter 1½ finger-widths to Mars’ upper right.

31 Jul    High in the east before dawn, look for the Pleiades Cluster 3 finger-widths to the waning crescent moon’s upper left. The moon is about one-third illuminated.

1 Aug    Magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is 1 finger-width to the moon’s lower right before dawn.

3 Aug    Over the next few days, the waning crescent moon passes by three planets in the pre-dawn sky. This morning look for magnitude –1.9 Jupiter, 3 finger-widths to the moon’s left or lower left, and magnitude 1.6 Mars, 3 finger-widths to Jupiter’s lower left. About 10 percent illuminated, the moon is at apogee, 63.63 Earth-radii (252,000 miles) away.

USPS Star Calendar for 21-27 July 14 July 2013

Posted by amedalen in July 2013.
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21 Jul    Magnitude –3.9 Venus passes within ½ finger-width of magnitude 1.3 Regulus tonight. Low in the west at twilight, the stars set 1½ hours after the sun. The moon is at perigee, 56.2 Earth-radii away (222,000 miles) away.

22 Jul    Low in the east before dawn, magnitude 1.6 Mars passes less than 1 degree from magnitude 1.9 Jupiter. Look quickly, because the sun rises less than 2 hours after the planets, which will soon be lost in the glare. Full moon at 1815 UT

23 Jul    Only a few hours past full, the moon is low in the west before dawn and sets an hour after sunrise. Tonight it rises a half hour after sunset.

25 Jul    The moon rises a couple of hours after sunset. Three days past full, it’s about 90 percent illuminated.

26 Jul    Before dawn, the bright star 3 fist-widths below the moon in the southwest is magnitude 1.3 Fomalhaut. The same distance above the moon sits magnitude 2.1 Alpheratz in the constellation Andromeda, the Chained Princess, daughter of Cassiopeia and Cepheus.

USPS Star Calendar for 10-16 February 3 February 2013

Posted by amedalen in February 2013.
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10 Feb    New at 720 UT, the moon rises and sets within a few minutes of the sun.

11 Feb    If you have a clear view of the western horizon at dusk, you can catch a glimpse of magnitude -0.9 Mercury 3 finger-widths to the waxing crescent moon’s lower left and magnitude 1.2 Mars 1 finger-width below Mercury. Watch them disappear below the horizon. Setting a little more than an hour after the sun, Mars is followed 15 minutes later by Mercury. The moon sets a half hour later. The equation of time is at the minimum for the year, -14.25 minutes. That means at noon mean solar time the sun has not reached the meridian; it will do so 14 minutes later.

12 Feb    Today is Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the day before the season of lent begins.

13 Feb    Look low in the west at nightfall to spot magnitude 2.1 Alpheratz 2 fist-widths to the thin waxing crescent moon’s upper right. Magnitude 2.0 Mira is 2½ fist-widths to the upper left, and magnitude 2.2 Hamal is the same distance above the moon.

14 Feb    Mira, in the constellation Cetus, the Whale, is 2 fist-widths to the moon’s left tonight. To the ancient Greeks, Cetus was a sea monster that Perseus destroyed before it could attack Andromeda. Today is St. Valentine’s Day.

15 Feb    Early this evening, magnitude -2.4 Jupiter is 3 fist-widths to the waxing crescent moon’s upper left high in the west. Magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is 3 finger-widths to the left or lower left of Jupiter, and Orion is a couple of fist-widths beyond Aldebaran. The moon is 25 percent illuminated.

16 Feb    Mercury reaches its greatest elongation east of the sun, a little over 18 degrees, and sets 1½ hours after the sun.

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 21-27 October 14 October 2012

Posted by amedalen in October 2012.
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21 Oct    At evening twilight, magnitude 0.9 Altair, in the Summer Triangle, is 2½ fist-widths above the waxing gibbous moon low in the south. The triangle’s other stars are magnitude 0.1 Vega, 3 fist-widths to Altair’s upper right, and magnitude 1.3 Deneb, 2 fist-widths to Vega’s upper left or nearly overhead.

22 Oct    In the south at sunset, magnitude 0.9 Altair—in the constellation Aquila, the Eagle—is 2½ fist-widths to the first-quarter moon’s upper right. In Greek mythology, the eagle Aquila carried Zeus’ thunderbolts.

23 Oct    High in the south at sunset, the waxing crescent moon lies between two third-magnitude stars, so get out your binoculars. Magnitude 3.1 Sadalsuud in Aquarius, the Water Bearer, is 2 finger-widths above the moon, and magnitude 3.0 Deneb Algedi—in the constellation Capricornus, the Sea Goat—is little more than 3 finger-widths below the moon.

25 Oct    Saturn, in conjunction with the sun, passes behind it.

26 Oct    Mercury reaches its greatest elongation east, 24.1 degrees from the sun. Look quickly at dusk to spy Mercury before it slips below the western horizon.

27 Oct    Rising less than an hour before sunset, the nearly full moon is high in the east as the stars appear. Directly above the moon, the Great Square of Pegasus includes three stars from the constellation Pegasus and one borrowed from neighboring Andromeda. The nearest star of the square is magnitude 2.9 Algenib, 1 fist-width above the moon. Magnitude 2.6 Markab is 1½ fist-widths to the upper right, and magnitude 2.6 Scheat is 1½ fist-widths to the upper left. Andromeda’s magnitude 2.1 Alpheratz, 1½ fist-widths to the lower left, completes the square.