Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 2/3/18

What's up in the sky 2/3/18 

Today: The CWU Physics Department and the College of the Sciences is hosting its first Saturday planetarium show today from noon to 1 pm. Bruce Palmquist will give a show highlighting the sky as seen in different wavelengths of light. Shows are free and open to all ages. There will be a show at noon on the first Saturday of every month hosted by different CWU astronomers and astronomy educators. The planetarium is room 101 in Science Phase II, just off the corner of 11th and Wildcat Way, H-11 on the campus map found at 
Some constellations don't look anything like the figure they represent. Aquila the eagle does. In classic Greek mythology, Aquila was the eagle that carried the thunderbolts of Zeus, the king of the gods. In Hinduism, Aquila represents the eagle-like god Garuda. And in NFL mythology, the Eagle represents the creature who will finally defeat Gisele's husband and the man clothed in torn sweatshirts. Aquila, and its brightest star Altair, is about two fists held upright and at arm's length above the east-southeast horizon at 6:30 am tomorrow morning. 

SundayAre you going to watch the super bowl tonight? Is the bowl really that super? After all, half the night the bowl is tipped upside down, spilling out all of its contents. But don’t just focus on the functionality of the bowl. Think about how it inspires people all across the world to look at the night sky. In Mongolia, participants in the super bowl are known as gods. An Arabian story says the super bowl is a coffin. I encourage you go outside tomorrow night at about 8 p.m., after whatever unimportant thing you have been doing since 3:30 p.m. Look low in the north-northwest sky and watch the super bowl, also known as the Big Dipper, balancing on the end of its handle, proudly displaying its large bowl.  

Monday: The bright star Regulus, in the constellation Leo the Lion, is about one and a half fists above the east horizon at 8 p.m. 

Tuesday: Are you interested in participating in astronomy research? You don’t need to go back to school. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars getting a fake degree from an online university. The scientists working on the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter would like your input on which objects they should target for close-up pictures. While you may think the scientists are just trying to build interest in their project by having people look at pretty pictures, there is a real scientific benefit to having many eyes searching for interesting targets. There aren’t enough scientists to carefully inspect all of the low power images. And surprisingly, computers are not nearly as effective as people in making nuanced judgments of images. So, go to and click on the HiWish button. You’ll be on your way to suggesting close-up targets for NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

Wednesday: Jupiter is about a half a fist to the lower left of the Last Quarter Moon at 6:30 a.m.  

Thursday: Winter is a good time to see the thick band of the Milky Way galaxy. It arches high in the high in the early evening starting in the southeast by Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Climbing from Sirius through the "horns" of Taurus high overhead, it drops down toward M-shaped Cassiopeia in the north and the tail of Cygnus, the swan, in the northwest. 

Friday: Mars is about a half a fist to the lower right of the Moon at 6:30 a.m. Mars' rival, Antares, is a little over a half a fist directly below Mars. 

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 

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