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Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Astronomy

30 Oct 2020
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All three bright outer planets are in fine display during evenings in November 2020. Bright Jupiter is in the southwestern sky at dusk, with Saturn nearby, and the pair drawing ever more attention as the gap between them narrows; and bright, pumpkin-colored Mars, climbing high in the east-southeast, while beginning to fade. The beautiful Pleiades star cluster is up all night just before Thanksgiving. Sirius, the brightest star, reaches its high point in the south around 3 a.m. on Nov. 13, backing to 2 a.m. on Nov. 28. The inner planets—Venus, and for most of month, Mercury—are prominent in the east-southeast morning twilight glow. Standard time resumes on Nov. 1, the first Sunday of November. Remember to set your clocks back one hour. The result: Darker early-evening (by the clock) skies for sky watching, making the evening sky more accessible to younger children with early bedtimes. But we’ll get earlier…
29 Sep 2020
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October presents two full moons, on the first and last day of month, as well as Venus in a close pairing with Regulus before dawn on Oct. 2 and 3; a close approach and the peak brilliance of Mars; Jupiter closing in on Saturn; and four close pairings of the moon with bright planets. Mars, visible during nearly all of October’s nighttime hours, presents its closest and brightest (peak magnitude -2.6) approach to Earth until 2035. Mars reaches its least distance of 38.57 million miles from Earth (light travel time: 3 minutes, 27 seconds) on Oct. 6, and reaches opposition on Oct. 13, as Earth overtakes the red planet. Mars even outshines Jupiter for most of month. On Oct. 13, it’s early summer in Mars’ southern hemisphere, and little remains of the south polar cap, since the warmth of the sun has caused most of the cap’s frozen carbon dioxide…
31 Aug 2020
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Venus, the brightest planet, and ruddy Mars dominate September’s predawn mornings. Bright Jupiter and nearby Saturn float in the southern sky at nightfall, while creeping slightly closer together. Mars doubles in brilliance for the second consecutive month—and will outshine Jupiter by late September—while the red planet’s rising time shifts two hours earlier, into evening twilight. Do you enjoy watching moonrises? During Sept. 1-7, the moon rises no more than 30 minutes later on each successive evening. Notice the moon’s reddened color and flattened shape at each moonrise; the moon’s decreasing phase from one day to the next; and the northward shift of its rising place from day to day, from the full moon’s rise at 7:23 p.m. on Sept. 1, through the 70-percent full moon’s rise at 10:13 p.m. on Sept. 7. Note bright Mars less than a degree above the rising moon on evening of Sept. 5. They’re still…

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