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USPS Star Calendar for 30 November-6 December 23 November 2014

Posted by amedalen in December 2014, November 2014.
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30 Nov    High in the southeast at dusk, the waxing gibbous moon is 2 fist-widths above a second-magnitude star, magnitude 2.2 Deneb Kaitos. Can you see the fourth-magnitude star midway between them? You may need binoculars to make out magnitude 3.8 iota Ceti.

2 Dec    Tonight look for magnitude 2.0 Mira, 1½ fist-widths below the moon.

3 Dec    The moon is surrounded by two second-magnitude and two third-magnitude stars this evening. The brightest, magnitude 2.0 Mira is 1½ fist-widths to the lower right.  Next in brightness, magnitude 2.2 Hamal is about the same distance to the upper left. Two finger-widths to Hamal’s right is magnitude 2.7 Sheratan. Finally, magnitude 2.8 Menkar is below and slightly right of the moon. You will need binoculars to get the most out of this viewing opportunity.

4 Dec    The Pleiades Cluster is 1 fist-width to the moon’s left or upper left this evening. Aldebaran is 1½ fist-widths to the lower left. The moon is more than 90 percent illuminated.

5 Dec    The nearly full moon rises in the middle of the constellation Taurus, the Bull, shortly before sunset. The brightest star, Aldebaran, is 1 finger-width to the moon’s lower left at dusk. Passing within less than 1 degree, the moon grows closer to Aldebaran as the evening passes. At midnight, the pair stands high in the south with Aldebaran to the moon’s lower right.

6 Dec    By mid-evening the full moon is high in the east surrounded by several first-magnitude stars. Aldebaran is 1 fist-width to the upper right. Capella is nearly 3 fist-widths to the upper left. Far below Capella is Pollux, the brighter of the Gemini Twins. Orion is to the lower right of the moon with its two first-magnitude stars, Betelgeuse 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower right, and Rigel at the opposite corner, beyond the belt.

USPS Star Calendar for 16-22 November 9 November 2014

Posted by amedalen in November 2014.
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16 Nov    The moon rises early tomorrow morning, so dark skies tonight make exploration a little easier. Look high in the west 3 or 4 hours after sunset. The Summer Triangle, made up of the only first-magnitude stars in the area, dominates the western sky. The brightest, magnitude 0.1 Vega, forms the lower right corner of the triangle. The next brightest, magnitude 0.9 Altair, anchors the lower left corner, a little more than 3 fist-widths to Vega’s left or lower left. Magnitude 1.3 Deneb sits at the triangle’s top, a little more than 2 fist-widths above or to the upper left of Vega.

17 Nov    Only two first-magnitude stars are in the east tonight. The brightest is magnitude 0.2 Capella. Three fist-widths to its lower right is magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran. The moonless sky gives us the perfect chance for a good view of the Pleiades Cluster, the Seven Sisters. With your naked eye, look a little more than 1 fist-width above Aldebaran and see how many of the sisters you can spot. Now look with your binoculars.

19 Nov    Low in the east before dawn, Spica is 1 finger-width below the waning crescent moon, which is only 10 percent illuminated.

20 Nov    Edwin Hubble was born on this day in 1889. Among his greater contributions to astronomy was the confirmation that the Milky Way is just one of billions of galaxies in the visible universe. He also discovered that the universe is expanding in all directions, relative to everything else in the universe. In recognition of his achievements, NASA named its large space telescope for him.

21 Nov    Only one day before new, the moon sets a few minutes after sunset, making for dark skies and good viewing opportunities. About 4 hours after sunset, Orion and Gemini appear above the eastern horizon. To the north, the Big Dipper is just above the horizon. For viewers in southern states, the Big Dipper is below the horizon.

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 12-18 January 5 January 2014

Posted by amedalen in January 2014.
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13 Jan    Bright lights surround the waxing gibbous moon tonight. The brightest, magnitude –2.7 Jupiter is 1 fist-width to the lower left, magnitude 0.2 Capella is 3 fist-widths to the upper left, magnitude 0.6 Betelgeuse is 1 fist-width to the lower right, and magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is 2 fist-widths to the upper right.

14 Jan    Only two days from full, the moon stands a little more than 2 finger-widths to Jupiter’s lower right this evening.

15 Jan    Tonight, the moon is 1 fist-width below Jupiter and midway between magnitude 0.5 Procyon, one fist-width to the lower right, and magnitude 1.2 Pollux, the same distance to the upper left.

16 Jan    The moon is at apogee, 63.81 Earth-radii (more than 406,000 kilometers) away.

18 Jan    The moon rises less than two hours after sunset, and magnitude 1.3 Regulus can be found 2 finger-widths to its upper left. Five fist-widths to the left, the Big Dipper stands on its handle just above the horizon.

USPS Star Calendar for 28 April-4 May 21 April 2013

Posted by amedalen in April 2013, May 2013.
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28 Apr    Before first light, look for Antares 3 finger-widths to the moon’s lower right low in the southwest. Only three days past full, the moon is more than 90 percent illuminated.

1 May    May Day, related to the Celtic festival Beltane, features bonfires and maypoles.

2 May    Low in the southeast before dawn, the last-quarter moon is 2½ fist-widths below or to the lower left of bright magnitude 0.9 Altair.

4 May    Get out and enjoy the free light show during the next few moonless nights. Orion sets shortly after sunset, leaving Gemini in the west. Look 3 fist-widths to Gemini’s lower right to see magnitude 0.2 Capella, in the constellation Auriga, the Charioteer.

USPS Star Calendar for 14-20 April 7 April 2013

Posted by amedalen in April 2013.
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14 Apr    The waxing crescent moon is less than 2 finger-widths to Jupiter’s left or upper left at dusk.

15 Apr    Three prominent constellations surround the moon tonight: Orion to the lower left, Gemini to the upper left and Taurus to the lower right. Home to the navigational star Capella, the lesser-known constellation Auriga, the Charioteer, is to the moon’s upper right. The moon is at apogee, 63.48 Earth-radii, or 405,000 kilometers, away. The equation of time is zero, which means sundial (apparent solar) time and mean solar time are the same.

16 Apr    Gemini’s brightest stars, Pollux and Castor, are 1½ fist-widths above the moon tonight. Magnitude 1.9 Alhena is 1 finger-width below the moon. Less than a third of the moon’s surface is illuminated

17 Apr    The waxing crescent moon lies midway between magnitude 1.2 Pollux, 1 fist-width to the upper right, and magnitude 0.5 Procyon, to the lower left.

18 Apr    Procyon is a little more than 1 fist-width to the first-quarter moon’s lower right, and magnitude 1.3 Regulus is 2½ fist-widths to the moon’s upper left.

20 Apr    Regulus is less than 3 finger-widths above or to the upper left of the waxing gibbous moon, high in the south at dusk. About two-thirds of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

USPS Star Calendar for 17-23 March 10 March 2013

Posted by amedalen in March 2013.
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17 Mar    The waxing crescent moon lies between magnitude -2.2 Jupiter, less than 1 finger-width to the upper right, and magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran, less than 2 finger-widths to the lower left.

18 Mar    The moon is midway between magnitude 0.2 Capella, 2½ fist-widths to the upper right, and magnitude 0.3 Rigel, to the lower left. Several other bright first-magnitude stars are nearby tonight: magnitude 0.6 Betelgeuse 1½ fist-widths to the left, magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran 1 fist-width below, magnitude 0.5 Procyon 3½ fist-widths to the upper left.

19 Mar    The first-quarter moon is at apogee, 63.38 earth-radii or 404,000 kilometers away.

20 Mar    The vernal equinox occurs at 1102 UT as the sun crosses the celestial equator, headed north, marking the first day of spring for the northern hemisphere, when day and night are approximately equal all over the world. “Equinox” comes to us from the Latin, meaning “equal night.” The precise date of equal day and night depends on your location, however. If you are at 60 degrees north latitude, day and night are equal on 18 March. If you are between 40 and 55 degrees north latitude, your date is 17 March. Between 30 and 35 degrees, it’s 16 March. The date becomes earlier the closer you are to the equator.

21 Mar    High in the south at dusk, Orion is far to the waxing gibbous moon’s lower right, while the Gemini Twins are to the upper left and Procyon is to the lower left. The Big Dipper stands on its handle high in the northwest.

22 Mar    The moon hangs high in the south as the sky darkens this evening. Procyon is 1 fist-width to the lower left, and the Gemini Twins are the same distance above. Far to the lower left, Regulus is the brightest object in that area of sky.

23 Mar    Rising 3½ hours before sunset, the moon is high in the southeast at dusk. Regulus is 4 finger-widths to the left, and the Big Dipper stands on its handle to the far left. As evening passes, the Big Dipper rotates counter-clockwise and is upside-down, high in the north at midnight.

USPS Star Calendar for 20-26 January 13 January 2013

Posted by amedalen in January 2013.
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20 Jan    Late this evening, the Pleiades Cluster is 3 finger-widths to the waxing gibbous moon’s upper left high in the south. Magnitude -2.6 Jupiter is 1 fist-width to the left.

21 Jan    The moon passes within less than 1 degree of Jupiter tonight.

22 Jan    Orion stands below the moon tonight. About 80 percent illuminated, the moon is at apogee, 63.55 earth-radii or 405,000 kilometers away.

23 Jan    Notable constellations surround the moon this evening: Orion to the lower right, Gemini to the left or lower left, Taurus to the right or upper right, and Auriga to the upper left or above. Home to Capella, Auriga, the Charioteer, is often depicted carrying a goat and a couple of kids.

24 Jan    The moon is more than 90 percent illuminated tonight. The Gemini Twins are 1½ fist-widths to the moon’s right, and magnitude 0.5 Procyon is 1½ fist-widths below the moon.

25 Jan    The moon is midway between Procyon, 1 fist-width to the lower right, and the Gemini Twins, to the upper left.

26 Jan    Rising within a few minutes of sunset and setting shortly before sunrise, tonight’s full moon is known as the Old Moon. Procyon is 1½ fist widths to the moon’s right or upper right. The Gemini Twins are nearly 2 fist-widths above the moon, and Regulus is 2 fist-widths to the lower left.

USPS Star Calendar for 28 October-3 November 21 October 2012

Posted by amedalen in November 2012, October 2012.
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29 Oct    The full moon rises at sunset. Later tonight, the star 2 fist-widths to the moon’s lower right is magnitude 2.0 Mira, in the constellation Cetus, the whale that swallowed Jonah.

30 Oct    Rising 1½ hours after sunset, the moon and the Pleiades Cluster are high in the southeast at midnight. The Pleiades is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s left. Aldebaran is 1½ fist-widths below the Pleiades, and Jupiter is 3 to 4 finger-widths to Aldebaran’s left.

31 Oct    The moon lies midway between the Pleiades, 3 finger-widths above, and Aldebaran, the same distance below. Jupiter is less than 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower left.

1 Nov    Less than 1 finger-width separates Jupiter and the moon as they rise above the horizon. By midnight, Jupiter is 1 finger-width above the moon high in the east. Aldebaran is 3 finger-widths to Jupiter’s right and bright magnitude 0.2 Capella is 2½ fist-widths to Jupiter’s upper left. The moon is at apogee, 63.67 Earth-radii (406,000 kilometers) away.

3 Nov    The waning gibbous moon and the Gemini Twins, 1½ fist-widths to the left, rise late this evening. Betelgeuse is 1½ fist-widths to the moon’s right. The moon is more than 80 percent illuminated.

USPS Star Calendar for 9-15 September 2 September 2012

Posted by amedalen in September 2012.
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9 Sep    In the southeast before dawn, the moon lines up between Jupiter, a little more than 1 fist-width to the upper right, and Venus, 3½ fist-widths to the lower left. Orion is to the lower right, and magnitude 0.2 Capella is 2½ fist widths to the upper left.

10 Sep    Now closer to Venus, the moon is midway between Venus and Jupiter. Magnitude 0.6 Betelgeuse is 1½ fist-widths to the right, and the Gemini Twins, Pollux and Castor, are the same distance to the left or lower left. Magnitude 0.5 Procyon is 2 fist-widths directly below the moon.

11 Sep    The waning crescent moon closes in on Venus. This morning it is little more than 1 fist-width above the planet. Procyon is to the lower right, and the Gemini Twins are to the upper left. The Big Dipper stands on its handle to the far left.

12 Sep    The moon and Venus rise side by side nearly four hours before the sun. Venus is 2 finger-widths to the waning crescent moon’s left. Less than 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

13 Sep    Only 10 percent illuminated, the waning crescent moon rises less than 3 hours before the sun.

14 Sep    Look to the right of the sun as it dips below the horizon to see the Big Dipper standing with its handle slightly elevated. Follow the dipper’s arc to the lower left to magnitude 0.2 Arcturus.