Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Ellensburg sky for the week of 11/15/08

Today: Imagine Opie and Andy Taylor walking down the dirt path at night to that fishing hole in the sky. (No, that is not a euphemism for death.) They’d probably be looking to catch Pisces, the two fish already conveniently tied together with two ropes. The ropes are connected at the star Alrescha, Arabic for “the cord”. Alrescha is four and a half fists held upright and at arm’s length above due south at 10 p.m. The fish are attached to lines of stars that branch out at one o’clock and three o’clock from Alrescha. By the way, “The Fishing Hole”, The Andy Griffith Show’s theme song was rated the 20th best TV theme song of all time by That’s too low in my opinion.

Sunday: The Leonid meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow morning. These meteors appear to come from a point in Leo the lion. This point is about one fist above the east-northeast horizon at midnight tonight. You can follow this point throughout the night and into the morning as it will remain about one fist above the bright star Regulus. These meteors are particles from the tail of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. This will likely be an average to below average Leonid shower with about 10-15 meteors per hour visible throughout the night. But the light of the waning gibbous moon will obscure all but the brightest meteors.

Monday: Jupiter is one fist above the southwest horizon at 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus the bull, is two and a half fists above due east at 8 p.m.

Wednesday: This morning’s last quarter moon is in the constellation Leo the lion.

Thursday: Saturday, November 22, the Nature of Night takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Black Hall on the CWU campus in Ellensburg, Washington. There will be planetarium shows, fun nighttime projects, storytelling, cookies and much more. The event is free. Go to or call 509-963-2929 for more information. The Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education at CWU and various community sponsors work together to put on this event. When you are there, ask about Venus. It is nearly a fist above the southwest horizon at 5:30 p.m. You can even see it in the daytime sky if you know where to look.

Friday: Saturn is about a half a fist to the upper right of the moon at 6 a.m. They are in the southeastern sky.

The positional information in this column about stars and any planet except Mercury is accurate for the entire week.

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