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USPS Star Calendar for 10-16 May 3 May 2015

Posted by amedalen in May 2015.
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10 May    Look to the lower left of the Big Dipper for the Gemini Twins, Pollux and Castor, in the west. Brilliant Venus is 2 fist-widths to the Twins’ lower right. You should be able to spot two bright stars to Venus’ left. Alhena is the brighter of the two. How many stars can you see between Alhena and Pollux? Now look again with binoculars.

12 May    This evening, Jupiter is high in the southwest. Regulus, in the constellation Leo, the Lion, is 1½ fist-widths to Regulus’ left. Five fist-widths beyond Regulus is Spica, in the constellation Virgo. Saturn is nearly 4 fist-widths to Spica’s lower right, near the horizon in the southeast.

13 May    To find the Little Dipper, follow the pointer stars at the end of the Big Dipper’s handle 3 fist-widths to the lower right to Polaris. Polaris is at the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. Kochab, 1½ fist-widths to Polaris’ upper right, is one of the Little Dipper’s corners. Another corner is Pherkad, 2 finger-widths to Kochab’s right or lower right. You may need binoculars to see the other stars of the dipper and handle.

15 May    The moon is at perigee, 57.39 Earth-radii (366,000 kilometers) away.

16 May    Only two days before new, the moon rises less than an hour before the sun and is no more than a thin sliver, low in the east before dawn.

 

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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.

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 8-14 March 11 March 2015

Posted by amedalen in March 2015.
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8 Mar    The bright star 2 finger-widths to the moon’s right is Spica, normally found by beginning with the Big Dipper, arcing to Arcturus and speeding on to Spica. Working backward from Spica, look 3 fist-widths to the upper left to Arcturus in the constellation Boötes, the Herdsman. Measure another 3 fist-widths to Arcturus’ upper left to the last star in the dipper’s handle, Alkaid. The Big Dipper’s bowl is to the upper left. Can you find Polaris? How about Cassiopeia? Daylight saving time begins at 0200. Spring forward.

10 Mar    Tonight the moon rises just after midnight. It is low in the south before first light, with Saturn 1 fist-width to the left.

12 Mar    Just before dawn, Saturn is 1 finger-width to the moon’s lower right, and Antares is 4 finger-widths to its lower left.

14 Mar  The moon is above the dome of the Teapot in the constellation Sagittarius.

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 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 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 2-8 June 26 May 2013

Posted by amedalen in June 2013.
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3 Jun    The waning crescent moon rises 3 hours before the sun. About 25 percent of the moon’s surface is illuminated.

4 Jun    The moon spends the next few evenings out of view, leaving us with dark skies for stargazing. In the east, Gemini is closer to the horizon. Regulus and the constellation Leo have taken over the western sky. Leo’s second brightest star, magnitude 2.2 Denebola, is 2½ fist-widths to Regulus’ upper left.

5 Jun    In the south, midway up from the horizon, two bright bodies grab our attention. The brighter is Saturn. At magnitude 0.4, it outshines magnitude 1.2 Spica, 1 fist-width to the right. Magnitude 0.2 Arcturus is high above, and magnitude 1.1 Antares is far to the lower left.

6 Jun    The Summer Triangle begins to climb in the eastern sky. Magnitude 0.1 Vega is halfway up from the horizon, a little left of east, magnitude 1.3 Deneb is 2½ fist-widths to the lower left, and 4 fist-widths to the lower right, magnitude 0.9 Altair completes the triangle. Altair rises nearly an hour after sunset, so the best view will be around midnight when the triangle is high in the east.

7 Jun    In early evening, the Big Dipper is high in the north with its handle pointing up. Find Polaris by following a line to the lower right from the pointer stars at the far end of the dipper. Polaris is the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper. Now find the brightest star of the Little Dipper, magnitude 2.2 Kochab, 1½ fist widths above or to the upper right of Polaris, depending on when you are looking.

8 Jun    New moon at 1556 UT 

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.