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USPS Star Calendar for 30 November-6 December 23 November 2014

Posted by amedalen in December 2014, November 2014.
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30 Nov    High in the southeast at dusk, the waxing gibbous moon is 2 fist-widths above a second-magnitude star, magnitude 2.2 Deneb Kaitos. Can you see the fourth-magnitude star midway between them? You may need binoculars to make out magnitude 3.8 iota Ceti.

2 Dec    Tonight look for magnitude 2.0 Mira, 1½ fist-widths below the moon.

3 Dec    The moon is surrounded by two second-magnitude and two third-magnitude stars this evening. The brightest, magnitude 2.0 Mira is 1½ fist-widths to the lower right.  Next in brightness, magnitude 2.2 Hamal is about the same distance to the upper left. Two finger-widths to Hamal’s right is magnitude 2.7 Sheratan. Finally, magnitude 2.8 Menkar is below and slightly right of the moon. You will need binoculars to get the most out of this viewing opportunity.

4 Dec    The Pleiades Cluster is 1 fist-width to the moon’s left or upper left this evening. Aldebaran is 1½ fist-widths to the lower left. The moon is more than 90 percent illuminated.

5 Dec    The nearly full moon rises in the middle of the constellation Taurus, the Bull, shortly before sunset. The brightest star, Aldebaran, is 1 finger-width to the moon’s lower left at dusk. Passing within less than 1 degree, the moon grows closer to Aldebaran as the evening passes. At midnight, the pair stands high in the south with Aldebaran to the moon’s lower right.

6 Dec    By mid-evening the full moon is high in the east surrounded by several first-magnitude stars. Aldebaran is 1 fist-width to the upper right. Capella is nearly 3 fist-widths to the upper left. Far below Capella is Pollux, the brighter of the Gemini Twins. Orion is to the lower right of the moon with its two first-magnitude stars, Betelgeuse 1 fist-width to the moon’s lower right, and Rigel at the opposite corner, beyond the belt.

USPS Star Calendar for 17-23 March 10 March 2013

Posted by amedalen in March 2013.
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17 Mar    The waxing crescent moon lies between magnitude -2.2 Jupiter, less than 1 finger-width to the upper right, and magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran, less than 2 finger-widths to the lower left.

18 Mar    The moon is midway between magnitude 0.2 Capella, 2½ fist-widths to the upper right, and magnitude 0.3 Rigel, to the lower left. Several other bright first-magnitude stars are nearby tonight: magnitude 0.6 Betelgeuse 1½ fist-widths to the left, magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran 1 fist-width below, magnitude 0.5 Procyon 3½ fist-widths to the upper left.

19 Mar    The first-quarter moon is at apogee, 63.38 earth-radii or 404,000 kilometers away.

20 Mar    The vernal equinox occurs at 1102 UT as the sun crosses the celestial equator, headed north, marking the first day of spring for the northern hemisphere, when day and night are approximately equal all over the world. “Equinox” comes to us from the Latin, meaning “equal night.” The precise date of equal day and night depends on your location, however. If you are at 60 degrees north latitude, day and night are equal on 18 March. If you are between 40 and 55 degrees north latitude, your date is 17 March. Between 30 and 35 degrees, it’s 16 March. The date becomes earlier the closer you are to the equator.

21 Mar    High in the south at dusk, Orion is far to the waxing gibbous moon’s lower right, while the Gemini Twins are to the upper left and Procyon is to the lower left. The Big Dipper stands on its handle high in the northwest.

22 Mar    The moon hangs high in the south as the sky darkens this evening. Procyon is 1 fist-width to the lower left, and the Gemini Twins are the same distance above. Far to the lower left, Regulus is the brightest object in that area of sky.

23 Mar    Rising 3½ hours before sunset, the moon is high in the southeast at dusk. Regulus is 4 finger-widths to the left, and the Big Dipper stands on its handle to the far left. As evening passes, the Big Dipper rotates counter-clockwise and is upside-down, high in the north at midnight.