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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.

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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 31 March-6 April 26 March 2013

Posted by amedalen in April 2013, March 2013.
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31 Mar    Mercury reaches its greatest elongation west of the sun for the year, at nearly 28 degrees. Rising nearly an hour before the sun, Mercury has not been this far from the sun since 2006. Antares is 3 or 4 finger-widths to the moon’s lower left before dawn in the south. Saturn is more than 2 fist-widths to the left. The moon is at perigee, 367,000 kilometers away.

1 Apr    High in the west at sunset, magnitude -2.1 Jupiter is less than three finger-widths to the upper right of magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran; Orion is a couple of fist-widths to the left. During the month, the distance between Jupiter and Aldebaran increases as Aldebaran drops quickly, leaving Jupiter behind.

2 Apr    Rising 5 hours before the sun, the moon is low in the south at dawn above the dome of the Teapot constellation, Sagittarius.

3 Apr    The last-quarter moon rises more than 4½ hours before the sun.

4 Apr    The moon sets before the sun, making the evenings perfect for stargazing. At dusk look for Orion in the west and brilliant magnitude -2.1 Jupiter 1 fist-width to the right. Magnitude 1.1 Aldebaran is 3 finger-widths to the lower right.

5 Apr    Look to Orion’s upper left tonight to see bright magnitude 0.5 Procyon, 2½ fist-widths to the upper left of Betelgeuse, Orion’s left shoulder. Magnitude -1.59 Sirius, the Dog Star, is 2½ fist-widths below Procyon. Follow a line from Betelgeuse through Procyon to magnitude 1.3 Regulus, 3½ fist-widths beyond Procyon.

6 Apr    The Big Dipper, Ursa Major, stands on its handle high in the east tonight. Follow the handle’s arc 3 fist-widths to the lower right to magnitude 0.2 Arcturus, and another 3 fist-widths to magnitude 1.2 Spica. Late tonight Saturn peeks above the horizon to Spica’s lower 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.