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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.

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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.

USPS Star Calendar for 17-23 February 10 February 2013

Posted by amedalen in February 2013.
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17 Feb    The Pleiades Cluster is 3 finger-widths to the right or upper right of the first-quarter moon high in the southwest early tonight. Jupiter is 2 finger-widths to the upper left.

18 Feb    The waxing gibbous moon has moved to Jupiter’s left tonight, and Aldebaran is 2 finger-widths to the moon’s lower right.

19 Feb    Orion is below the moon this evening. The second brightest star, magnitude 0.6 Betelgeuse, is 1 fist-width below or to the lower left of the moon. Two-and-a-half fist-widths beyond Betelgeuse lies magnitude -1.59 Sirius, the Dog Star, in the constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog. In myth, Canis Major is one of Orion’s hunting dogs. The moon is at apogee, 63.42 earth-radii or 404,000 kilometers away.

20 Feb    The bright star 1 finger-width to the moon’s lower left tonight is magnitude 1.9 Alhena in the constellation Gemini, the Twins.  Pollux and Castor, the Twins, are nearly 2 fist-widths to the moon’s upper left. Nearly 75 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

21 Feb    The moon lies midway between the Gemini Twins, to the upper left, and magnitude 0.5 Procyon, below.

22 Feb    Rising 3 hours before sunset, the moon, nearly 90 percent illuminated, is visible before sunset. As daylight fades, watch as stars appear near the moon. The first to emerge should be the brightest, magnitude -1.59 Sirius, which is 3½ fist-widths to the moon’s lower right. The next should be magnitude 0.5 Procyon, 1 fist-width to the moon’s right.

23 Feb    Tonight, the moon is between Regulus, 1½ fist-widths to the lower left, and Procyon, 2 fist-widths to the upper right. The Big Dipper stands on its handle, far to the left.

USPS Star Calendar for 3-9 February 27 January 2013

Posted by amedalen in February 2013.
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3 Feb    The last-quarter moon is 2 finger-widths to Saturn’s lower left in the pre-dawn sky.

4 Feb    Scorpius, the Scorpion, is to the lower left of the waning crescent moon low in the south before dawn.

5 Feb    Magnitude 1.1 Antares, the heart of the Scorpion, is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left just before dawn. About one-third of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

6 Feb    The waning crescent moon rises 3 hours before the sun low in the southeast before dawn. Only 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated

7 Feb    Look north at dusk to spot the Big Dipper just above the horizon with its handle to the lower left of the bowl. The dipper rotates counter-clockwise and is a little higher with the handle straight down three hours after sunset. By midnight, the dipper has rotated even more and is high in the northeast. The moon is at perigee, 57.28 earth radii or 365,000 kilometers away.

8 Feb    With the moon setting 1½ hours before the sun, tonight is perfect for stargazing. Starting with Orion high in the south, follow a line through the three belt stars 2 fist-widths to the lower left to the Dog Star, magnitude -1.59 Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major.

USPS Star Calendar for 24 to 30 October 17 October 2010

Posted by amedalen in October 2010.
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24 Oct
The moon rises less than an hour after sunset. The Pleiades Cluster is less than 2 finger-widths to its left, and magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the Bull, is 1½ fist-widths to the lower left. The bright star 3 fist-widths beyond the Pleiades is magnitude 0.2 Capella. Use binoculars.

25 Oct
Before dawn, the Pleiades Cluster is less than a half finger-width from the moon high in the west. Tonight, magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s lower right, the Pleiades Cluster is 4 finger-widths to the upper right, and magnitude 0.2 Capella is 2 fist-widths to the upper left. Use binoculars.

26 Oct
Look high in the west this morning to see Aldebaran 4 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left. Orion is farther left.

27 Oct
Rising just before midnight, the moon and Orion, 1 to 2 fist-widths to the right, are followed closely by the Gemini Twins. High in the south at first light, Orion is to the moon’s lower right and the Twins are to its upper left. The bright star nearly 4 fist-widths below the moon is magnitude -1.6 Sirius, the Dog Star.

28 Oct
The Gemini Twins rise with the moon late tonight.

29 Oct
At inferior conjunction with the sun, Venus passes between the sun and Earth and moves from the evening sky into the morning sky.

30 Oct
Magnitude 0.5 Procyon is 1½ fist-widths to the moon’s lower right high in the south at sunrise. The Gemini Twins are the same distance to the moon’s upper right, and magnitude 1.3 Regulus is 2 fist-widths to the lower left. Last-quarter moon at 1246 UT