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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 12-18 April 5 April 2015

Posted by amedalen in April 2015.
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12 Apr    Follow the pointer stars at the end of the Big Dipper’s handle to the left past Polaris, the North Star, to Cassiopeia, the Lazy “W” constellation near the horizon in the north.

13 Apr    Orion, the Mighty Hunter, is low in the west at sunset. Two fist-widths to the right of his belt is Aldabaran. Venus is 1 fist-width to the lower right of Aldabaran. Use your binoculars to spot the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters, 1 finger-width to the right of Venus.

15 Apr    The equation of time is zero. Local mean time and sun time are equal.

17 Apr    The moon is at perigee, 565.60 Earth-radii (361,000 kilometers) away.

USPS Star Calendar for 21-27 December 14 December 2014

Posted by amedalen in December 2014.
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21 Dec    The winter solstice marks the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

23 Dec    Only two days past new, the thin waxing crescent moon is low in the west at dusk.

24 Dec    Mars stands to the left of the moon early this evening. They set less than 3½ hours after the sun. Altair is 2½ fist-widths to the moon’s upper right. The moon is at perigee, 57.19 Earth-radii (365,000 kilometers) away.

25 Dec    Mars is 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower right this evening. The equation of time is zero.

26 Dec    The moon spends the last week of the year crossing the evening sky between Mars and Jupiter. Tonight Mars is 2½ fist-widths to the moon’s lower right. Jupiter doesn’t even rise in the west until 20 minutes after Mars sets.

USPS Star Calendar for 20-26 July 13 July 2014

Posted by amedalen in July 2014.
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21 Jul    High in the east before dawn, the Pleiades Cluster is 4 finger-widths to the waning crescent moon’s upper left, and magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is a little more than 1 fist-width to the lower left.

22 Jul    The waning crescent moon passes within half a finger-width of Aldebaran this morning.

24 Jul    The thin waning crescent moon and Venus rise side-by-side less than 2 hours before sunrise. Mercury rises a half hour later. All three should be visible low in the east before the sky brightens.

25 Jul    Rising after Mercury this morning, a thin sliver of moon is 2 finger-widths to the planet’s lower right.

26 Jul    The equation of time reaches a shallow minimum of –6.54 minutes.

USPS Star Calendar for 8-14 June 4 June 2014

Posted by amedalen in June 2014.
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8 Jun    The moon passes to the left of Spica by less than the width of a finger held at arm’s length.

9 Jun    The moon lies between Spica and Saturn this evening. Saturn is 4 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left.

10 Jun    The moon lies nearly 3 finger-widths to Saturn’s lower left.

11 Jun    The moon, Saturn, Spica, Mars and Regulus form a more or less straight line spanning 10 fist-widths across the southern sky early this evening. Antares, the red heart of the Scorpion, is 4 finger-widths to the moon’s lower right near the southeastern horizon.

12 Jun    Low in the southeast by midnight, Antares is 1½ fist-widths to the moon’s right or lower right. The Teapot constellation, Sagittarius, is to the lower left, near the horizon.

13 Jun    The full moon rises a half-hour after sunset and sets tomorrow morning nearly 2 hours after sunrise. The equation of time is zero. Local mean time and sun time are equal.

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 3-9 November 27 October 2013

Posted by amedalen in November 2013.
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3 Nov    Change your clocks back one hour this morning. The equation of time is at maximum for the year, 16.48 minutes. This means that at noon mean solar time (clock time), the sun has already passed the meridian, 16 minutes earlier. To see today’s total solar eclipse, you will need to go to Africa; however, those in the northeastern U.S. will get a glimpse of a partial eclipse at sunrise.

4 Nov    Only one day old, the moon sets an hour after the sun, making for dark evening skies and good stargazing opportunities. Beginning low in the southwest, brilliant magnitude –4.4 Venus is easy to spot soon after sunset. Don’t wait too long, because it sinks below the horizon 2½ hours later. Look 4½ fist-widths above Venus to magnitude 0.9 Altair. Low in the southeast, 6½ fist-widths to Venus’ left is magnitude 1.3 Fomalhaut.

5 Nov    Late this evening, find Fomalhaut low in the south and magnitude 2.2 Deneb Kaitos, 2½ fist-widths to the left or upper left. Nearly 3 fist-widths to the left of Deneb Kaitos is magnitude 2.0 Mira. Don’t miss Cassiopeia, the lazy “W” constellation far to the upper left.

6 Nov    Low in the west at dusk, magnitude –4.5 Venus is 3 finger-widths to the thin waxing crescent moon’s lower left. The moon is at perigee, 57.28 Earth-radii (365,000 kilometers) from Earth. Only 10 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

7 Nov    After the moon sets 4 hours after the sun, the sky should be dark enough to see a few of the dimmer stars if you are away from light pollution. Look to the northwest. How many stars can you see in the constellation, Cygnus, the Swan? Of the three bright stars in the area, two are near the horizon. The highest is part of the Swan, magnitude 1.3 Deneb, the head. Three finger-widths to the lower left is magnitude 2.3 Sadr, the center of the Swan’s body. The wings are made up of magnitude 2.6 epsilon cygni, 4 finger-widths to the upper left, and magnitude 3.0 delta cygni, a little farther to the lower right of Sadr. The tail extends 1½ fist-widths to the lower left and ends with magnitude 3.2 Albireo. How many stars can you see between Sadr and Albireo with your naked eye? If the sky is dark enough you should be able to see three fourth-magnitude stars. Now, how many can you see with your binoculars?

9 Nov    High in the south at sunset, the moon is between magnitude 0.9 Altair, 2½ fist-widths to the upper right, and magnitude 1.3 Fomalhaut, 3 fist-widths to the lower left.

USPS Star Calendar for 1-7 September 25 August 2013

Posted by amedalen in September 2013.
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1 Sep    In the east before dawn, the waning crescent moon stands between the Gemini Twins, 1 fist-width to the upper left, and Procyon, the same distance to the lower right. Brilliant magnitude –2.0 Jupiter is 1 fist-width directly above the moon. Less than 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. The equation of time is zero.

2 Sep    Mars is 3 finger-widths to the slivered moon’s upper left before dawn.

3 Sep    Only two days from new, the moon, about 5 percent illuminated, rises less than two hours before the sun.

5 Sep    Low in the west at dusk, the first light you see is magnitude –4.0 Venus, followed by magnitude 0.7 Saturn, 1 fist-width to the upper left, and magnitude 1.2 Spica, less than 1 finger-width to Venus’ lower left. New moon at 1136 UT

7 Sep    Only a few days old, the moon sets soon after the sun, making stargazing easier. Ursa Major, the Big Dipper, sits a little left of north with its handle pointing to the upper left. The pointer stars at the end of the bucket point toward Polaris, less than 3 fist-widths to the upper right. Looking to the right (east), you can easily make out Cassiopeia, the Lazy W constellation. Turning farther right, now facing south, you can see the Summer Triangle to Cassiopeia’s upper right. Sagittarius and Scorpius are easy to spot near the horizon. Finishing the turn, now facing west, you can see Arcturus, the bright star in the middle of the sky.

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 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.