Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Ellensburg sky for the week of 7/10/10

Saturday: The little king, also known as the bright star Regulus, is feeling a hunka hunka burnin’ love for the bright planet Venus. Less than a pinky width held at arm’s length separates them tonight. They are one fist held upright and at arm’s length above the west horizon at 10 p.m. They will love each other tender for the entire week as they remain close together in the evening sky.

Sunday: After watching the movie “South Pacific” and honoring its well-known song by “washing that man right out of your hair”, go to the real South Pacific Ocean to view a total solar eclipse. This morning, the residents of the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Easter Island, as well as small sections of southern Chile and Argentina will see the Moon completely cover the Sun for a total solar eclipse. During a total solar eclipse, the new Moon is directly between the Earth and Sun. For people watching from the path of totality, the Sun disappears and it is possible to see the nighttime stars. The next eclipse visible in Ellensburg, as well as the entire United States, is a total lunar eclipse on the night of December 20 and 21.

Monday: Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter’s young nemesis, is related to Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black. Draco’s mother, Narcissa Black (Sirius’ cousin) helped develop a plan to trap Harry at the Ministry of Magic in the fifth book. Draco’s namesake, the constellation Draco the dragon is one of the largest constellations in the sky, winding around the North Star. Draco’s head is a four-sided figure nearly straight overhead at 11 p.m.

Tuesday: Saturn is one and a half fists above the west-southwest horizon at 10 p.m.

Wednesday: The Andromeda galaxy, the most distant object visible with the naked eye from a dark site, has moved into the evening sky. To locate the Andromeda Galaxy, first find the Great Square of Pegasus. At 11:00 p.m., the left hand corner of the square is about two fists above the east-northeast horizon. Less than two fists to the left and down a little bit is another star the same brightness as the star at the corner of the square. From that star, hop about a half a fist up to a star that is about one fourth as bright. Less than another half fist in the same direction is a fuzzy oval patch of light known as the Andromeda Galaxy. The galaxy is impressive to see in binoculars. It consists of about 400 billion stars and is 2.2 million light years away.

Thursday: Mars is less than a half a fist to the upper right of the Moon at 10 p.m.

Friday: Jupiter is a little less than a half a fist above due east at midnight tonight. Just before dawn tomorrow morning, it will be four fists above the south-southeast horizon.

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week.

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