Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 5/5/18

Saturday: The CWU Physics Department and the College of the Sciences is hosting its first Saturday planetarium show today from noon to 1 pm. CWU physics professor Tony Smith will honor mothers with a presentation about mothers in the night sky. It's certainly not a man's world up there! There will be a show at noon on the first Saturday of every month hosted by different CWU astronomers and astronomy educators. These shows are free and open to all ages. 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 

Sunday: Mother’s Day is a week away. What are you going to get her? Get her a Gem(ma). The star Gemma, also known as Alphekka, is the brightest star in the constellation Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. Gemma, Latin for jewel is the central gemstone for the crown. It is four fists held upright and at arm’s length above due east at 10 p.m. 

Monday: Venus is one and a half fists above the west-northwest horizon at 9 p.m. 

Tuesday: Ah, the signs of spring. Trees budding. Flowers blooming. Young lovers frolicking. The Spring Triangle rising. In order of brightness, Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus form a triangle that rises as the Sun is setting. By 9 a.m., Regulus is five fists held upright and at arm’s length above due south, Spica is one and a half fists above the southeast horizon, and Arcturus is three fists above the east horizon.  

Wednesday: Jupiter is opposition tonight. That doesn’t mean that Jupiter is a teenager. Opposition means that Jupiter is on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun. When an object is in opposition, it is at its highest point in the sky during the darkest time of the day. Thus, opposition is typically the best time to observe a planet. Jupiter is two and a half fists above due south at 1 a.m., midnight non-daylight savings time. If you don’t want to stay up so late, you can see it one and a half fists above due southeast horizon at 10 p.m. If you want to read more about Jupiter, go to If you want to move to Jupiter, you can't. 

Thursday: Mars and Saturn are both two fists above the horizon and on either side of due south at 5 a.m. Mars is a little bit east (to the left) of due south and Saturn is a little bit to the west (to the right) of due south. 

Friday: This weekend, celebrate Mother’s Day with the big mom of the sky, Virgo. Ancient Greeks and Romans associated this portion of the sky with their own goddess of the harvest, either Demeter (Greeks) or Ceres (Roman). Demeter was the mother of Persephone and Ceres was the mother of Proserpina. According to myth, each of these daughters was abducted causing their mothers great grief. The first star in Virgo rises in the afternoon. Spica, the bright bluish star in the constellation rises at 6:30 and is three fists above the south-southeast horizon at 10 p.m. 

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