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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.

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USPS Star Calendar for 5-11 April 29 March 2015

Posted by amedalen in April 2015.
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5 Apr    Only one day past full, the moon rises 1½ hours after sunset.

7 Apr    Just before midnight, the moon rises less than a half-hour before Saturn.

8 Apr    Low in the west before dawn, the moon and Saturn are in the head of the Scorpion, Scorpius. Saturn is less than a finger-width to the moon’s lower left. Antares is 4 finger-widths to Saturn’s lower left.

10 Apr    This morning the moon is above the dome of the Teapot constellation, Sagittarius. Mercury is in superior conjunction, passing on the opposite side of the sun as seen from Earth.

11 Apr    With the moon rising in the early morning, we have dark evening skies for stargazing. High in the northeast, the Big Dipper is nearly upside down. Follow the pointer stars at the end of the handle 3 fist-widths to the lower left to Polaris, the North Star. Then follow the handle’s arc 3 fist-widths to the lower right to Arcturus. Continue along the arc another 3 fist-widths to Spica. “Arc to Arcturus, then speed on to Spica.”

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.

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 7-13 July 30 June 2013

Posted by amedalen in July 2013.
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7 Jul    The moon is at apogee, 63.73 Earth-radii (253,000 miles) away.

8 Jul    New moon at 0714 UT

9 Jul    Mercury passes between Earth and the sun at inferior conjunction and will soon be visible in the morning sky.

11 Jul    Look low in the west at dusk to see magnitude 1.3 Regulus 3 finger-widths to the waxing crescent moon’s upper right and magnitude –3.9 Venus 1½ fist widths to the right. The moon is less than 10 percent illuminated.

13 Jul    In the early evening, the Big Dipper stands high in the north with its handle pointing upward. Follow the pointer stars at the bucket end 3 fist-widths to the North Star, magnitude 2.1 Polaris. Continue along that line to Cassiopeia, the Lazy W constellation.

USPS Star Calendar for 17-13 April 31 March 2013

Posted by amedalen in April 2013.
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7 Apr    Find the North Star, Polaris, by using the pointer stars at the far end of the Big Dipper’s bucket. Follow a line 3 fist-widths away from the opening to magnitude 2.1 Polaris. Now look beyond Polaris to the Lazy W constellation Cassiopeia, 2½ fist-widths to the lower left.

8 Apr    The thin waning crescent moon rises a little more than an hour before the sun. Mercury rises about 20 minutes later, giving you time to catch a glimpse before it’s lost in the sun’s glow. Mercury is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s lower right. Only 5 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

10 Apr    New moon at 0935 Universal Time

12 Apr    The thin waxing crescent moon sets 2½ hours after the sun. About 5 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

13 Apr    Low in the west at evening twilight, the thin waxing crescent moon lies between the Pleiades Cluster, 4 finger-widths to the lower right, and magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran, 3 finger-widths to the upper left. Jupiter is less than 1 fist width to the upper left.

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.