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Astronomy

31 Oct 2014
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In late November, catch the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, star cluster visible all night, low in the east-northeast at dusk; high in the south in middle of night; and low in the west-northwest at dawn. The view of this beautiful star cluster through a pair of binoculars is a sight not to be missed! The brightest stars in November at dusk: Arcturus, the “bear-chaser” star, can still be spotted very low in the west-northwest at dusk at start of November, but disappears below the horizon by second week. Mountains to the west will hasten its departure. Vega is very high in the west-northwest, three-quarters of the way from horizon to overhead on Nov. 1, and still halfway up to overhead at month’s end. Capella, the “mother-goat” star, is very low in the north-northeast to northeast at dusk in November, and slowly gaining in altitude. Note how stars near the horizon,…
30 Sep 2014
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This month’s highlights include a total lunar eclipse in the predawn hours of Wednesday, Oct. 8, and a partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23. Read more about these eclipses here. The two eclipses make October a good month to follow the moon through an entire cycle of phases and observe its changing visibility in day and night skies. 1. Observe the moon in early evening, about one hour after sunset. During the two-week periods Sept. 26-Oct. 8 and Oct. 25-Nov. 7, the moon changes from a thin crescent low in the southwestern sky, and moves through first quarter phase. By the final date of each set, Oct. 8 and Nov. 7, the moon will have just passed through full phase and will rise north of east, in waning gibbous phase—a little less than full—within an hour after sunset. Our evening twilight all-sky chart above depicts the sky at…
19 Sep 2014
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There are two eclipses in October 2014! The first is a total lunar eclipse, in the predawn hours of Wednesday, Oct. 8. You’ll want to set your alarm when you turn in for the night on Tuesday. Here are the times for the various stages of the Oct. 8 lunar eclipse for the Pacific time zone, with the moon’s position in Palm Springs. Moon enters umbra at 2:15 a.m. (moon’s azimuth is at 227 degrees; altitude is 52 degrees). Total eclipse begins at 3:25 a.m. (245°; 41°). Deepest eclipse is at 3:55 a.m. (251°; 35°). Total eclipse ends at 4:24 a.m. (256°; 29°). Moon leaves umbra at 5:34 a.m. (267°; 16°). During totality in Palm Springs, Uranus (magnitude 5.7) should be visible in binoculars nearly 1 degree to the left or lower left of the center of the eclipsed moon. A medium to high power telescope reveals the planet’s disk,…