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Eye on the Sky

While I enjoy looking at charts and thinking about astrology in the abstract, there is nothing more beautiful than to see celestial events in the sky! The awesome sight of the Moon close to a planet or two planets hanging out together, or the magic of an Eclipse - what can be better! These heavenly phenomena change constantly.

WINTER STARGAZING Crisp clear winter nights are great for stargazing! Reddish Mars is visible low in the southwestern sky for a while after sunset. The brighest object in the night sky now (2012-2013) is Jupiter, the biggest planet. It rises around sunset as winter begins and earlier as winter progresses, but still visible much of the night. (How late do you want to be out on a cold winter night, really? By the end of January, it sets around 3 AM.) Jupiter is in Gemini according to tropical (western) astrology (measuring signs according to seasons). Measured in relation to the actual constellation positions (sidereal zodiac), it looks like it's in the sky area of Taurus, so look for the brightest star of Taurus, Aldebaran (the bull's eye). Jupiter is above it. On Christmas, the Moon passes by Jupiter, blocking (occulting) part of the planet at 7:10 PM EST. This will happen again on January 21 at 11:02 PM EST. These will be worth looking for! You can also watch as Jupiter retrogrades this winter, measured in relation to Aldebaran. Its usal progress night after night is to the right when it's in Direct motion. From October to the end of January, it slips further to the left.

I like to check out what's visible at this great site: www.skypub.com from Sky & Telescope Magazine. See their "This Week's Sky At A Glance." Their "Monthly Sky Charts" are way cool, too. You have to register to see them, but it's free. Another great site is Astronomy Today, with a quarterly listing of what to look for.

NASA has an index of wonderful astronomical photos with their explanations, containing lots of links to other great pics. This is really magnificent! Plan to stay a while when you visit.

Viewing some of the planets require the use of a telescope, but there is a lot you can enjoy with your naked eye.

I highly recommend an excellent annual guide to the sky: the Astronomical Calendar by the very talented and brilliant Guy Ottewell, available from UniversalWorkshop.com. It has amazing illustrations along with recommendations of what to look for in the sky, and helps you understand better what you see in a chart.

PLANETARIUMS are a great resource for appreciating the sky, as well. If you're able to get to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, you can see where Pluto was discovered! I also am a big fan of the Morehead Planetarium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It's likely that a university near you has a planetarium or observatory.

 


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