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USPS Star Calendar for 4-10 January 28 December 2014

Posted by amedalen in January 2015.
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4 Jan    Earth is at perihelion, 0.98328 AU away from the sun. Compare that to Earth’s distance of 1.01668 AU from the sun at aphelion on 6 July. An astronomical unit, or AU, is about 150,000,000 km or 93,000,000 miles.

5 Jan    As evening passes, it should be easy to spot the Gemini Twins 1 fist-width to the moon’s upper left and Procyon the same distance to the lower right.

6 Jan    High in the east by midnight, Jupiter is about 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower left. Procyon is 1½ fist-widths to the upper right.

7 Jan    By midnight, the moon, Jupiter and Regulus form a tight triangle in the east, with Jupiter 2 finger-widths to the moon’s upper left and Regulus 4 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left. The Big Dipper stands on its handle to the left.

8 Jan    Jupiter is directly above the moon low in the east by midnight, and Regulus is to the moon’s upper left.

9 Jan    The moon forms a nearly straight line with Regulus, 1½ fist-widths above, and Jupiter, less than 1 fist-width beyond.

10 Jan    High in the southwest before dawn, the moon lies between Regulus, 2 fist-widths to the right, and Spica, 3½ fist-widths to the left.

USPS Star Calendar for 29 December-4 January 22 December 2013

Posted by amedalen in December 2013, January 2014.
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29 Dec    The moon is 4 finger-widths to Saturn’s lower left. Less than 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

1 Jan    Rising a few minutes after sunset, Jupiter is high in the east by midevening. The Gemini Twins, Pollux and Castor, are less than 1 fist-width to the left, and Orion is about 3 fist-widths to the right. The bright star 2 fist-widths to the lower right is magnitude 0.5 Procyon. The new moon, only 9.8 hours old, is at perigee, 56.02 Earth-radii (357,000 kilometers) away. Check your tide tables.

2 Jan    Occurring a day after the new moon, the Quadrantids meteor shower should be above average and can be viewed over five nights. At its peak from the evening of 2 Jan. to the morning of 3 Jan, you may see 60-200 meteors per hour. For best viewing, choose a dark location after midnight. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky but will radiate from the constellation Boötes, which rises above the eastern horizon shortly after midnight. This is the only one of the three dominant meteor showers (Quadrantids, Perseids and Geminids) on a moonless night.

4 Jan    At perihelion, Earth makes its closest approach to the sun for the year at 0.98333 AU, or about 91.4 million miles, away. An astronomical unit (92,955,807.3 miles) is the average distance from Earth to the sun.

USPS Star Calendar for 24-30 November 17 November 2013

Posted by amedalen in November 2013.
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24 Nov    Now racing at 4 to 5 degrees per day, Comet ISON passes only 5 degrees from Mercury and Saturn. The comet is predicted to brighten to magnitude 0.4 to 0.0 compared with magnitude –0.7 Mercury and magnitude 0.6 Saturn. Spica is far to the upper right of Comet ISON’s head, but the tail may extend all the way up to Spica or even farther.

25 Nov    High in the south before dawn, magnitude 1.3 Regulus is 3 finger-widths to the upper left of the first-quarter moon, and Mars is 2½ fist-widths to the lower left. During the next few mornings, the moon moves left toward Mars. Mercury and Saturn are close, low in the east before dawn. They rise 1½ hours before the sun, so you will have to look quickly. Magnitude –0.7 Mercury is less than 1 degree to the upper right of magnitude 0.6 Saturn.

26 Nov    This morning, Regulus is 1½ fist-widths to the moon’s upper right, and Mars is the same distance to the lower left. Saturn is less than 1 degree above Mercury.

27 Nov    Mars is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s upper left this morning.

28 Nov    At perihelion, Comet ISON may be brighter than Sirius and Venus or even as bright as a half moon, and could be visible during daylight.

29 Nov    Spica is 1 finger-width to the moon’s lower left tonight. Only 20 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

30 Nov    The moon is between Spica, 1 fist-width to the upper right, and magnitude 0.6 Saturn, about the same distance to the lower left. Look quickly because Saturn rises less than 2 hours before the sun and will quickly be lost in the brightness.

USPS Star Calendar for 30 June-6 July 23 June 2013

Posted by amedalen in July 2013, June 2013.
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30 Jun    Last-quarter moon at 0453 UT

1 Jul    Magnitude –3.9 Venus is low in the west at sunset with magnitude 1.3 Regulus 2½ fist-widths to the upper left.

2 Jul    In the early evening, you’ll find the Big Dipper, Ursa Major, with its handle pointing up high in the southwest. It rotates counterclockwise and sinks toward the horizon as the evening passes. The year is half over at 1200 UT.

4 Jul    With the moon rising more than 2½ hours before the sun, tonight is a good time to view the Pleiades Cluster, 3 finger-widths to the upper left, and Aldebaran, 1 fist-width to the lower left.

5 Jul    Magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is 2 finger-widths to the right of the waning crescent moon this morning. At around 1500 UT, Earth reaches aphelion, its farthest distance from the sun at 1.01670 astronomical units (94 million miles) away. Aphelion varies from as early as 2 July to as late as 6 July. Earth is about 3.1 million miles more distant than it was at perihelion on 2 Jan.

USPS Star Calendar for 1-7 July 24 June 2012

Posted by amedalen in July 2012.
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1 Jul    Rising 2 hours before sunset, the moon and Antares will be low in the south after sunset with Antares 1 fist-width to the moon’s right. More than 90 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. The moon is at perigee, 56.81 Earth-radii (362,000 kilometers) away from the earth. Reaching its greatest elongation, 25.7 degrees east of the sun, Mercury is low in the west at nightfall, setting 1½ hours after the sun. With a clear view of the western horizon, you can see it easily as the sky darkens.

2 Jul    Rising an hour before sunset, the moon sits above the dome of the Teapot constellation, Sagittarius, late tonight.

5 Jul    Earth reaches aphelion, its farthest distance from the sun, at 0400 UT. We are almost 5 million kilometers (more than 3 million miles) farther from the sun than at perihelion on 3 Jan.

6 Jul    In the southwest before dawn, the moon is between Altair, 3 fist-widths to the upper right, and Fomalhaut, the same distance to the lower left.

7 Jul    Jupiter, Venus and Aldebaran form a nearly vertical line before dawn, with Jupiter at the top, Venus 2 finger-widths below and Aldebaran another ½ finger-width beyond.

USPS Star Calendar for 1-7 January 25 December 2011

Posted by amedalen in January 2012.
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1 Jan    High in the south at sunset, magnitude -2.6 Jupiter is 1 fist-width to the first-quarter moon’s lower left, and magnitude -4.0 Venus is near the western horizon, more than 6 fist-widths to the moon’s lower right. Keep an eye on these planets as they grow closer during the coming weeks and months.

2 Jan    At dusk, look high in the south for Jupiter, 2 finger-widths below the waxing gibbous moon. The moon is at apogee, 63.43 Earth-radii, or 405,000 kilometers, away.

3 Jan    Late tonight, the moon is high in the southwest, midway between Jupiter, a little more than 1 fist-width to the lower right, and the Pleiades Cluster, to the upper left. Orion is high in the south.

4 Jan    About 75 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. Early this evening, look for the Pleiades Cluster 2 finger-widths to the moon’s left and Jupiter far to the right or upper right, depending on your time of viewing.

5 Jan    The bright star 3 finger-widths below the moon tonight is magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran. Orion is a couple of fist-widths beyond Aldebaran. Earth is at perihelion, its closest approach to the sun for the year. It is only 0.98327 astronomical units, about 147,096,000 kilometers, away.

6 Jan    The moon rises about 2 hours before sunset. Low in the east at dusk, the first star to appear is magnitude 0.2 Capella, 2 fist-widths to the moon’s upper left. Next is magnitude 0.6 Betelgeuse, 1½ fist-widths to the lower right near the horizon. Aldebaran is next, appearing 1 fist-width to the moon’s upper right.

7 Jan    Straddled by Orion to the right and Gemini to the lower left, the moon rises a little more than 1 hour before sunset. Later tonight look just above the horizon for magnitude 0.5 Procyon, 2½ fist-widths below the moon.

USPS Star Calendar for 3-9 July 26 June 2011

Posted by amedalen in July 2011.
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3 Jul    At dusk, magnitude -0.3 Mercury is 1.5 fist-widths to the moon’s right, and Regulus is the same distance to the upper left.

4 Jul    Earth is at aphelion, its farthest distance from the sun, 1.01674 astronomical units or a little more than 152 million kilometers away, which is nearly 5 million kilometers farther than at perihelion on 3 Jan. Regulus is 3 finger-widths to the moon’s upper right tonight. Ten percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

5 Jul    Regulus is 1.5 fist-widths to the moon’s right tonight.

7 Jul    Tonight the moon forms a triangle with Saturn and Spica. Saturn is less than 1 fist-width to the moon’s upper right, and Spica is about 1 fist-width to the upper left. The moon is at perigee, 57.94 Earth-radii or about 370,000 kilometers away. A little more than one-third of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

8 Jul    Spica is 2 finger-widths to the moon’s upper right this evening. First-quarter moon at 0629 UT

USPS Star Calendar for 2 to 8 January 26 December 2010

Posted by amedalen in January 2011.
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2 Jan     Mercury is 2 finger-widths to the thin crescent moon’s upper left low in the southeast just before dawn.

3 Jan     At perihelion, Earth is nearest to the sun for the year. Tonight and tomorrow night when the Quadrantids meteor shower peaks, up to 40 meteors per hour will radiate from the constellation Boötes, which rises low in the east around midnight.

4 Jan     A partial solar eclipse will be visible in most parts of northern Africa, Europe and Asia. New moon at 0903 UT

7 Jan     The waxing crescent moon sets 3½ hours after the sun this evening. Less than 10 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated. The bright “star” 3 fist-widths to the moon’s upper left is magnitude -2.3 Jupiter.

8 Jan     Venus is at its greatest elongation west, 47 degrees from the sun. It rises more than 3½ hours before the sun.

USPS Star Calendar for 4 to 10 July 27 June 2010

Posted by amedalen in July 2010.
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4 Jul
For the next week or so, watch Venus and Regulus grow closer each evening. Last-quarter moon at 1435 UT

6 Jul
Earth is at aphelion, its farthest distance from the sun, about 1.0167 astronomical units away. This is about 3.1 million miles more than the distance at perihelion, Earth’s closest approach to the sun, on 3 Jan.

8 Jul
As the sky darkens, Venus and Regulus stand side by side, separated by 1 finger-width low in the west.

9 Jul
Venus
passes to the upper right of Regulus, separated by 1 degree.

10 Jul
Venus
is now above or to the upper left of Regulus.