Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 3/21/15

Red but feeling blue
That describes Mars this weekend
Moon fled for Venus

Saturday: Mars is about two finger widths to the right of the moon at 8 p.m.

Sunday: April is Global Astronomy Month (GAM). While many astronomy experiences come from looking up, you can also experience astronomy looking down… at pen and paper. GAM has launched an Astropoetry blog and is looking for contributors, hopefully ones that are better than mine above. Even if you’ve never written a poem before, this is your opportunity to express your love for astronomy in a unique way and possibly share it with others. Go to http://goo.gl/SeOd4r for more poetry. The moon is expressing its love for Venus by moving upward in the early evening sky. At 8 p.m., Venus is about two finger widths to the right of the moon.

Monday: The Milky Way is pretty easy to spot on the early spring sky. Just look up. Everything you see in the sky, including that bird that just startled you, is in the Milky Way. But, even the path of densely packed stars in the plane of our galaxy that look like a river of milk is easy to find. Look due south at 9 p.m. Follow the fuzzy path just to the left of the bright star Sirius two fists held upright and at arm’s length above the horizon, to the right of the bright star Procyon four and a half fists above the southwest horizon, through Capella five fists above the west horizon, through W-shaped Cassiopeia, and down to due north.

Tuesday: Jupiter is six fists above due south at 10 p.m.

Wednesday: Orion is getting lower and lower in the nighttime sky. Its second brightest star, Betelgeuse, is only two fists above the west-southwest horizon at 11 p.m.

Thursday: If you want to put somebody off, tell her or him to wait until Deneb sets. At Ellensburg’s latitude of 47 degrees, Deneb is a circumpolar star meaning it never goes below the horizon. At 10:18 tonight, it will be as close as it gets to the horizon, about two degrees above due north. Watch it reach this due north position about 4 minutes earlier each night.

Friday: You need to get up early tomorrow to cheer on your favorite runners at the Yakima River Canyon Marathon starting at 8 a.m. on Canyon Road just south of Berry Road. So why not get a little viewing in? Saturn is two fists above the south-southwest horizon at 6 a.m. The bright star Antares is a half a fist to the lower left of Saturn.

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to http://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm.

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