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USPS Star Calendar for 3-9 March 24 February 2013

Posted by amedalen in March 2013.
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4 Mar    The last-quarter moon is above Antares before dawn.

5 Mar    The moon is at perigee, 58.01 earth-radii or 370,000 kilometers away.

6 Mar    The waning crescent moon rises 4 hours before the sun and is low in the south at dawn. Sagittarius is to the moon’s lower right. About a third of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

7 Mar    With the moon setting 4 hours before the sun, the dark sky will be perfect for stargazing. Start in the north with the Big Dipper, Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The handle arcs down toward the horizon. Follow the pointer stars at the far end of the dipper 3 fist-widths left to Polaris, the North Star. Another 3 fist-widths beyond Polaris is the Lazy W constellation, Cassiopeia, upside down in the early evening.

8 Mar    Now that you’ve found Polaris, use binoculars to see if you can make out the Little Dipper, Ursa Minor, the Little Bear. Polaris represents the end of the handle or the bear’s tail. This evening the handle extends to the lower right, arcing slightly upward, with the bowl parallel to the horizon. You need a dark sky to see the entire dipper, as only two stars are second magnitude and one is third magnitude. The others are fourth and fifth magnitude.

USPS Star Calendar for 7-13 October 30 September 2012

Posted by amedalen in October 2012.
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7 Oct    Only three days after the beginning of retrograde, Venus is already 2 finger-widths below Regulus in the east before dawn. The Big Dipper stands on its handle, 4 fist-widths to the left.

8 Oct    High in the south before dawn, magnitude 0.5 Procyon is a little more than 1 fist-width below the last-quarter moon; the Gemini Twins are about the same distance to the upper left.

9 Oct    Procyon is 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower right this morning.

11 Oct    Regulus is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left at first light, and Venus is 4 finger-widths below Regulus. About 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

12 Oct    Now 1 fist-width below Regulus, Venus is 3 finger-widths to the waning crescent moon’s left before dawn.

13 Oct    At evening twilight, look for the Big Dipper, also known as Ursa Major or the Great Bear, near the northern horizon. Find the pointer stars, which form the side of the dipper’s bowl opposite the handle, and follow them to magnitude 2.1 Polaris, the North Star. In Cherokee legend, the dipper’s handle represents hunters pursuing the bear.