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Wed06192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Astronomy

30 May 2019
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June evenings will be wonderful for viewing the skies, especially if you stay up late enough until the sky fully darkens. With daylight saving time in effect on these longest days of the year, that might be a tall order! Mercury starts 16 degrees to the lower right of Mars on June 1, climbing to 0.3 degrees above Mars on June 18, at their closest pairing. Mercury and Mars remain within 3 degrees June 14-24. Mercury decreases in brightness, from magnitude -1.0 on June 1, through 0.0 on June 16, to +1.0 on June 30. Mercury fades rapidly in first days of July, but in June, it remains much brighter than Mars’ magnitude +1.8—as faint as Mars ever gets. Elsewhere in the west to northwest, Procyon and Capella drop out of sight, but the Gemini Twins, Pollux and Castor, 4.5 degrees apart, hold on. During June 18-21, first Mercury, then…
30 Apr 2019
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A thin crescent moon low in the west-northwest at dusk on May 5 marks the start of Ramadan, with a month-long daytime fast beginning the next day. Nearly two weeks later, a “blue moon”—the third of four full moons within the season—is visible through all nighttime hours of May 18. Late in the month, bright Jupiter begins rising in southeast during early evening hours. The May evening twilight chart shows that Rigel, Aldebaran, Sirius and Betelgeuse disappear this month, leaving four winter stars—Procyon, Pollux, Castor and Capella—forming an arch in the western sky through month’s end, when Mercury is just starting an evening appearance very low in the west-northwest. Regulus in Leo crosses high in the south into the west-southwest. Golden zero-magnitude Arcturus rises high in the eastern sky, with blue-white first-magnitude Spica in Virgo to its lower right. Zero-magnitude Vega, the brightest member of the Summer Triangle and first…
28 Mar 2019
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My lifelong interest in sky-watching began in the school year 1951-52, a year after our sixth-grade teacher led us to create a mural of the solar system, with the planet sizes to scale. When I was in seventh-grade, our school library included two books which really changed my life: A Dipper Full of Stars, by Lou Williams Page, originally published by in 1944—and revised and republished as a California state textbook in 1959! The other book was The Friendly Stars, by Martha Evans Martin, published in 1907. On the first page of A Dipper Full of Stars is a quote from Harlan T. Stetson’s Man and the Stars: “To acquire some appreciation of the meaning of the skies, one must make the friendship of the stars; watch their majestic march through the night, and the slow seasonal advance of constellation after constellation from east to west throughout the year. To…

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