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February Skies 2015

Orion commands the southern skies, while the spectacular Jupiter, easily the brightest star-like object in the evenings this month, gleams in the east, to the right of Leo, the Lion.  The brightest star in our night skies, Sirius, is now climbing into the southern skies, marking the nose of the Great Dog.  The Big Dipper begins to lift higher into the northeastern skies through the month. Venus and Mars enjoy a terrific meeting near the 20th, joined by the Crescent Moon.  Saturn comes up by 2 o’clock, joined by the red star Antares below it about an hour later.

28 -  Due south this evening at 8:00 PM EST is the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, the “nose” of Canis Major, the Great Dog.  The path of all stars and planets creates an arc, with its highest point due south, placing Sirius in its best viewing position.  The name Sirius comes from the Arabic word meaning “blazing one”.  

March Skies 2015

 

The change of seasons in March can be messy and frustrating, but not so in the sky.  Each and every year, Orion settles into the southwest for some great evening views.  The evenings also feature the Big Dipper rising in the northeast, looking like a giant question mark.  Follow the “handle” toward the horizon, where the star Arcturus rises by 9 o’clock. Leo the Lion climbs up into the east, led by the dazzling Jupiter.  The western twilight see Venus even brighter than Jupiter, while a much fainter Mars drifts toward the horizon.  Saturn makes it return after midnight. 

 

1 – The waxing Gibbous Moon starts the month of March to the upper right of a bright star, Procyon, the only bright star in Canis Minor, the Little Dog.  Much brighter to the Moon’s lower left is the planet Jupiter, while two moderately bright stars can be found above the Moon, the twins of Gemini.

2 – Jupiter rides up into the southeastern skies this evening in tandem with the nearly Full Moon.  The Moon will be bright and Full this week, but then move out of the evening skies next week, leaving Jupiter to rule the skies as the brightest nighttime object. 

 

 

Orion in late February (click on image for larger image in a new tab) 
Orion in late February

 

Astronomy Resources

 

Spaceweather.com 

The latest information on the Rosetta Mission from ESA, solar activity, and the Aurora Borealis (northern lights).


Sky and Telescope’s safe eclipse viewing guide

You can view the partial eclipse safely and easily following the directions provided.


The Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover

This is the home page for the Curiosity Rover.  Explore the site to find images, videos, and volumes of science information.


The Mars Exploration Program

This is the home page for all of the on-going missions to Mars.


 


The Mars page of the website Nine Planets

Nine Planets is a great website featuring information about each planet (and even though there are only eight “planets”, you’ll find information about nearly all of the moons, dwarf planets, and other small solar system bodies)

 

Sky & Telescope's Interactive Star Chart

You must register first (it's free) to use this on-line chart.  Follow the directions to get a chart that will show the sky for any location, at any time.  You can also create a .pdf file to view from your computer any time.

 

The Old Farmer's Almanac

 

Astronomy Picture of the Day


Each day brings a fascinating look at astronomy, and an explanation of what you are seeing.


Vermont Astronomical Society

The Vermont Astronomical Society (VAS) is a group of amateur astronomers that has been serving northern Vermont for over 45 years. Membership ranges from beginning naked-eye stargazers to advanced amateurs with home observatories and elaborate equipment.

 

 

NASA Science

This is the home of NASA, where science ranges from the Earth to the ends of the universe.  That means there's a lot to explore!  

SpaceWeather.com


News and information about the Earth-Sun environment, including astronomy events (eclipses, moon phenomena, asteroids, etc.), discoveries, and Northern Lights.  


Magazines:  

Sky & Telescope Magazine


 Astronomy Magazine

Books: There are thousands of books, and each has information that can be helpful.  You might collect a few before you find one that matches your taste and way of thinking about astronomy.  To help you get started, check with your local library or favorite book store for the following titles:  

The Stars by H. A. Rey

Rey, well known for writing and illustrating the "Curious George" books, wrote this wonderful introduction to the night sky in the 1950s, and it remains one of the best for a wide range of ages and interests.  

NightWatch by Terrence Dickinson

This ring-bound book leads the beginning star gazer through the heavens, rich in photographs, charts, and lots of practical information.  

Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinkley Allen 

For those who love the myths and origins of star names and constellations, this is a wonderful start.  Some of the interpretations have been challenged in recent years as others have looked into the subject, so it is not considered the final authority.  But it is still a wealth of ideas and information.  

Night Sky: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Field Guides) by Mark R. Chartrand

This all around guide book shows you how to find the constellations, describes the nature of the heavens and the objects we see, and how to set up and use a telescope  

Exploring the Night Skies with Binoculars by David Chandler

This is must, because it gives such practical and realistic expectations about what you can see.   

Also of interest:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Astronomy by Christopher De Pree and Alan Axelrod

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo

The Sky: A User’s Guide by David Levy
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