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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Astronomy

26 Feb 2016
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From early March through early June 2016, the Earth will overtake all three bright outer planets within just 87 days, with each planet reaching peak brilliance and all-night visibility: Jupiter in early March; Mars in late May; and Saturn in early June. For several months following these oppositions, each respective planet will remain conveniently visible in the evening sky … at last! What does opposition mean? When at opposition as seen from Earth, a planet appears at or nearly 180 degrees from the sun, and appears on the opposite side of the sky from where the sun is located. Thus, the planet will be up all night: low in the eastern sky at dusk, high in the south in the middle of the night, and low in the western sky at dawn. Near the date of its opposition, a planet reaches its closest approach to Earth, and its peak in…
22 Feb 2016
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Join us for Impromptu Sky Watches, or Neighborhood Mini-Star Parties, to be held in a neighborhood, park or at a school by one or more members of the Astronomical Society of the Desert! The purpose is to observe a fairly unusual but eye-pleasing astronomical event we’d like to share with others. The event might be a very thin crescent moon in morning or evening twilight, or it could be a rare gathering of celestial bodies. A close pair of planets, or a planet and a star, or the moon and a planet or bright star, may trigger our desire to share the experience of viewing the event. Sometimes, a sky watch might be arranged to see a very favorable pass of the International Space Station across our local skies, or just to enjoy a moonrise over our scenic mountain horizon. If you’d like to join us for one or more…
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…