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USPS Star Calendar for 5-11 May 28 April 2013

Posted by amedalen in May 2013.
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5 May    Leo, the Lion, dominates the southern sky. Its brightest star, magnitude 1.3 Regulus, is easy to spot in the south. Magnitude 0.5 Procyon is 4 fist-widths to Regulus’ lower right. Magnitude 2.2 Alphard, in the constellation Hydra, the Sea Serpent, is 2 fist-widths below Regulus. Magnitude 1.2 Spica lies far to the lower left of Regulus. Noticeably brighter, Saturn is just beyond Spica.

6 May    The bright star halfway up from the eastern horizon is magnitude 0.2 Arcturus, in the constellation Boötes, the Herdsman. Arcturus comes from the Greek, meaning “guardian of the bear.”

7 May    In the early evening, the Big Dipper is upside down high overhead with its handle extending to the right.

9 May    For the best view of today’s annular solar eclipse, you will have to go to Australia or New Guinea. Those in Hawaii will see a partial eclipse. New moon at 0028 UT

10 May    The moon sets less than an hour after the sun but if you have a clear view of the western horizon, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the thin waxing crescent moon just to the lower left of Venus.

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USPS Star Calendar for 10-16 March 3 March 2013

Posted by amedalen in March 2013.
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10 Mar    Turn your clocks forward. Daylight saving time begins at 0200. Officially, the clock hour 0200 to 0300 does not exist.

11 Mar    Tonight’s new moon will not interfere with stargazing.

13 Mar    The moon sets a little more than an hour after the sun.

14 Mar    Low in the west at dusk, Hamal and Sheratan in the constellation Aries, the Ram, are less than 1 fist-width to the thin waxing crescent moon’s upper right. Jupiter stands high to the upper left. The moon is less than 10 percent illuminated.

16 Mar    The Pleiades Cluster is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s upper right, and Jupiter is 1 fist-width to its upper left high in the west after sunset. The moon is less than one-third illuminated.

USPS Star Calendar for 6-12 January 30 December 2012

Posted by amedalen in January 2013.
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6 Jan    Before first light, look for the waning crescent moon between Saturn, 3 finger-widths to the lower left, and Spica, 1 fist-width to the upper right.

7 Jan    Before dawn, the moon hangs out in the constellation Libra, the Scales. Using binoculars, look for the triangle of stars that make up Libra’s body, the brightest of which is magnitude 2.7 Zubeneschamali (Northern Claw), 1 fist-width to the moon’s upper left. Magnitude 3.4 Brachium (sigma Librae) is 3 finger-widths to the lower right, and magnitude 2.9 Zubenelgenubi (Southern Claw) is 2 finger-widths to the upper right, midway between the moon and Saturn.  

8 Jan    Rising 3½ hours before the sun, the waning crescent moon is low in the southeast before first light in the head of the Scorpion, Scorpius. The moon is midway between Saturn, 2 fist-widths to the upper right, and Venus, to the lower left near the horizon. Venus rises a little more than an hour before the sun, so you will need to look quickly before it fades from view.

10 Jan    Rising a little more than an hour before the sun, Venus and the moon are low in the east at first light and fade in the glow of the rising sun. Only 5 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. The moon is at perigee, 56.45 earth-radii or 360,000 kilometers away.

11 Jan    New at 1944 UT, the moon rises and sets within a few minutes of the sun.

USPS Stare Calendar for 16-22 September 9 September 2012

Posted by amedalen in September 2012.
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16 Sep    Tonight the moon rises and sets just before the sun does. New moon at 0211 UT

17 Sep    Jupiter is high in the south before dawn, and Orion is just below.

19 Sep    The moon, which sets about 2 hours after the sun, is visible low in the southwest at dusk. Magnitude 1.2 Mars is 1 finger-width to the right. The moon is at perigee, 57.35 Earth-radii (366,000 kilometers) away.

20 Sep    Tonight the moon is in the head of Scorpius, with Mars 1½ fist-widths to the lower right and magnitude 1.1 Antares 3 finger-widths to the lower left. Compare the color of Mars and Antares, the “rival of Mars.” The waxing crescent moon is 20 percent illuminated.

22 Sep    The moon is above the dome of Sagittarius. The autumnal equinox occurs at 1449 UT as the sun crosses the celestial equator into the southern hemisphere.

USPS Star Calendar for 12-18 August 5 August 2012

Posted by amedalen in August 2012.
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12 Aug    In the east before dawn, the moon is between magnitude -2.2 Jupiter, 4 finger-widths to the upper right, and magnitude -4.3 Venus, 1½ fist-widths to the lower left. Orion is to the lower right, and the bright star 2½ fist-widths to the upper left is magnitude 0.2 Capella. The dimmer star between them is magnitude 1.8 Elnath.

13 Aug    Low in the east before dawn, the moon is less than 2 finger-widths to Venus’ upper right. Only 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. Look southwest at dusk to see Saturn, Mars and Spica line up within 2 finger-widths of one another. Magnitude 0.2 Saturn is on the top, magnitude 1.1 Mars is in the middle, and magnitude 1.2 Spica is on the bottom.

14 Aug    Although Saturn, Mars and Spica are still in line tonight, Mars has moved to the left and will continue to do so, leaving Saturn and Spica behind.

15 Aug    Along the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise, magnitude 0.2 Mercury is 4 fist-widths to the lower left of the thin waning crescent moon. Look quickly because the ever-elusive Mercury fades from view as the sky brightens.

16 Aug    Mercury reaches its greatest elongation west, 18.7 degrees from the sun. Mercury rises 1½ hours before the sun and is visible before sunrise with a clear view of the eastern horizon. Rising a half hour after Mercury, the thin waning crescent is 3 finger-widths below.

17 Aug    Tonight’s new moon is perfect for stargazing. With binoculars, find Mars, Saturn and Spica near the western horizon at dusk. Moving left (south) to see Scorpius and Sagittarius also hugging the horizon. Continue moving left until you are looking north to the Big Dipper. Follow the dipper’s pointer stars to Cassiopeia, the Lazy W constellation.

18 Aug    Now that you have found Cassiopeia, look 3 fist-widths to the upper right to magnitude 1.3 Deneb, 2 fist-widths above Deneb to magnitude 0.1 Vega, and 3½ fist-widths to Vega’s lower right to magnitude 0.9 Altair. These three stars form the Summer Triangle.

USPS Star Calendar for 15-21 July 8 July 2012

Posted by amedalen in July 2012.
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15 Jul    Before first light, the moon forms a tight cluster with Jupiter 2 finger-widths to the upper right, Venus to the lower right and Aldebaran to Venus’ upper right.

16 Jul    Aldebaran, Venus and the waning crescent moon line up low in the east before dawn. Less than 10 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

19 Jul    New moon at 0424 UT. In most of the U.S., the new moon occurs before midnight on the 18th.

21 Jul    Tonight, the moon sets a little more than an hour after the sun. At dusk, find the Big Dipper high in the north, with the handle nearly straight up. Follow the handle’s arc to Arcturus, and speed on to Spica. Don’t mistake Spica for Saturn, which is slightly brighter at magnitude 0.8, versus Spica’s magnitude 1.2.

USPS Star Calendar for 15-21 April 8 April 2012

Posted by amedalen in April 2012.
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15 Apr    The equation of time is zero, which means apparent (sundial) and mean solar (clock) time are the same. At opposition, Saturn rises around sunset. Spica is 2 finger-widths to the right.

16 Apr    The thin waning crescent moon rises 2½ hours before the sun. Less than 25 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

18 Apr    At its greatest elongation west of the sun, 27.5 degrees, Mercury rises nearly a half hour before the sun.

19 Apr    The moon and Mercury rise side by side an hour before sunrise. Only about 5 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

21 Apr    The Lyrids meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow morning, and the new moon makes for favorable viewing.

USPS Star Calendar for 18-24 December 11 December 2011

Posted by amedalen in December 2011.
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18 Dec    High in the south at dawn, Mars is nearly 2 fist-widths to the moon’s upper right, while magnitude 1.2 Spica is 2 fist-widths to the lower left. Magnitude 0.7 Saturn is less than 3 finger-widths to the left of noticeably dimmer Spica. First-quarter moon at 0048 UT (1948 EST yesterday)

19 Dec    In the south before dawn, Spica is 3 finger-widths left of the moon and Saturn is the same distance beyond Spica. With your binoculars, see if you can tell a difference in color between Spica and Saturn. Saturn should seem slightly yellow or orange compared to white Spica.

20 Dec    Saturn and Spica are 3-4 finger-widths above the moon this morning.

22 Dec    Get out your binoculars early this morning and try to spot the ever elusive Mercury as it reaches its greatest elongation west 21.8 degrees from the sun at 2200 EST tonight. Rising more than an hour before first light, Mercury is 4 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left before dawn. Less than 5 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. The moon is at perigee, 57.2 Earth-radii, or 365,000 kilometers, away. The winter solstice occurs at 0530 UT.

24 Dec    New moon at 1806 UT

USPS Star Calendar for 20-26 November 13 November 2011

Posted by amedalen in November 2011.
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20 Nov    The moon rises 6.5 hours before the sun. A third of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

21 Nov    High in the southeast before dawn, magnitude 1.2 Spica is 1.5 fist-widths to the moon’s lower left, and magnitude 0.7 Saturn is 2 finger-widths to Spica’s upper left.

22 Nov    Before dawn, Spica is 1 finger-width to the moon’s left, and Saturn is 2 finger-widths to Spica’s upper left. Less than 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. Use your binoculars to see how many stars you can find that aren’t visible with the naked eye.

23 Nov    The moon is at perigee, 56.40 Earth-radii, or 360,000 kilometers, away.

25 Nov    New moon at 0610 UT

26 Nov    With an unobstructed view of the western horizon, try to spot magnitude -3.9 Venus less than 2 finger-widths to the moon’s left shortly after sunset. If you’re lucky, you can also see magnitude 1.1 Mercury 4 finger-widths to the moon’s lower right. About 1 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

USPS Star Calendar for 23-29 October 16 October 2011

Posted by amedalen in October 2011.
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23 Oct    The waning crescent moon rises less than 4 hours before the sun. Look for Regulus and Mars above the moon and the Big Dipper standing on its handle far to the left. About 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

26 Oct    The moon is at perigee, 55.98 Earth-radii, or 357 kilometers, away. The year’s second closest, perigee occurs a little more than 7 hours before the new moon, so we can expect tidal extremes. New moon at 1956 UT

28 Oct    Rising at sunset, Jupiter reaches its brightest magnitude of the year at -2.9. At 2200 EDT or 0200 UT, Jupiter is at opposition as Earth passes between it and the sun.