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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Astronomy

29 Jan 2016
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For much of February, early risers will continue to enjoy all five bright planets before dawn, as the waning moon sweeps past all of them through Feb. 6. In its next trip around Earth, the moon will go past four planets from Feb. 24 through March 7. February’s evening mid-twilight occurs about 40 minutes after sunset from our latitude. Sirius is the brightest object plotted on our evening chart until very late in the month, when Jupiter appears above the horizon just north of due east. Sirius and Capella are the southern and northern vertices and brightest members of the huge Winter Hexagon, with a seventh star, Betelgeuse, inside. Regulus and Jupiter follow the Hexagon across the sky. But you needn’t wait until the month is almost over to see Regulus and Jupiter; just look later in the evening. By Feb. 18, Regulus is at opposition and visible all night—note…
01 Jan 2016
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From late January through most of February, early risers can enjoy all five bright planets before dawn. The waning moon sweeps past four of these planets Dec. 31-Jan. 7, and past all five Jan. 27-Feb. 6. One hour before sunrise, find brilliant Venus in the southwest, with Saturn nearby to its upper right Jan. 1-8, and to the lower left thereafter. These two planets are 8 degrees apart on Jan. 1, closing to 5 degrees on Jan. 4. On two mornings, they’ll form a spectacular close pair in the same telescopic field, within 0.7 degrees, on Jan. 8, and 0.5 degrees on Jan. 9. They’re still within 4 degrees on Jan. 12, widening to 7 degrees on Jan. 15. Each day, Venus goes east against background stars by just more than 1.2 degrees, while Saturn goes by only 0.1 degrees, and Mars goes east about 0.5 degrees. Watch Venus pass…
30 Nov 2015
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In evening twilight in December, the Summer Triangle is well up in the west, getting lower as the month progresses. Its brightest member is blue-white Vega, at its northwest (lower right) corner. Altair marks the southern point of the Triangle, and Deneb the northeast corner, above Vega. Follow the Summer Triangle within the first hour after sunset until mid-January, when Altair sinks into the twilight glow. Solitary Fomalhaut, marking the mouth of the Southern Fish, drifts low across the southern sky in December’s evening twilight. From late in December’s second week into early January, try to find Mercury very low in the southwestern twilight glow; binoculars make the search easier. Yellowish Capella climbs in the northeast, while to its lower right, ascending in the east-northeast to east, we find red-orange Aldebaran, eye of Taurus the Bull. This star is at opposition to the sun each year around the start of…