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Astronomy

01 Aug 2013
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At dusk, watch Venus slowly close in on Spica and Saturn, until pairings occur in September. Meanwhile, the best Milky Way viewing occurs this year on evenings through Aug. 9, and then again Aug. 26 through Sept. 7. Get to a dark site by nightfall, and enjoy! Dark moonless predawn hours of Aug. 12 and 13 make this an excellent year for the annual Perseid meteor shower. And mid-August, dawn brings forth the greatest number of bright stars visible simultaneously. Venus continues as the brilliant evening “star” low in evening twilight, while drifting from west to west-southwest as month progresses. Valley residents living closely east of mountains (such as near downtown Palm Springs) will want to seek out a location where the mountains don’t block the planet from view. Venus will grace our evening sky until early January 2014. Until then, a waxing crescent moon passes Venus monthly, producing the…
01 Jul 2013
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In July 2013, the brilliant evening “star” Venus gleams low in evening twilight, drifting from west-northwest to west as month progresses. Valley residents living near the mountains (in downtown Palm Springs, for example) will have to seek out a location where mountains don’t block the view. On our evening all-sky chart (above), planets are plotted for each day when the Sun has sunk to 9 degrees below the horizon, at mid-twilight. By then, the two naked-eye planets and eight stars of first magnitude or brighter plotted on the chart are easily visible, except for Pollux and Regulus sinking in the twilight glow. In July, from the Coachella Valley, mid-twilight occurs about 45 minutes after sunset. Planet positions are represented by a separate dot for each date, with positions for each Monday in July (1, 8, 15, 22, 29), represented by a larger dot and labeled. We find Venus and Regulus…
02 Jun 2013
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During evening twilight in June 2013, the brilliant evening “star” Venus gleams very low in the west-northwest, while Mercury lingers nearby during the first three weeks. Saturn glows yellowish and steadily, well up in the south-southeast to south, contrasting with the twinkling blue-white star Spica just 12 to 13 degrees to Saturn’s west (right). On our evening all-sky chart, which you can see above, planets are plotted for each day when the sun has sunk to 9 degrees below the horizon, which we call “mid-twilight.” We have chosen that time, because we have found that by then, most planets and stars of first magnitude or brighter are easily visible to the unaided eye. In June, from Palm Springs, it takes 46 or 47 minutes after sunset to reach mid-twilight. Planet positions are represented by a separate dot for each date, with the positions for each Saturday in June (1, 8,…