Jimmy Westlake columns

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Jimmy Westlake: See Bootes — the heavenly cowboy

Locating Bootes and its bright star Arcturus is a snap. Just face the northeastern sky in the early evening and use the handle of the nearby Big Dipper as a pointer — follow the arc of the curved handle to find Arcturus.

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Jimmy Westlake: April’s shower of meteors

This year, on Tuesday night, April 21 into Wednesday morning, April 22, the Earth will pass through the Lyrid dust swarm, creating 20 or more beautiful falling stars per hour.

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Jimmy Westlake: Nova Sagittarii bounces back

If you missed the “new star” in Sagittarius last month, like I did, when it was at its peak brightness, I have some good news.

Jimmy Westlake: Egg moon to be eclipsed Saturday

Early next Saturday morning, Coloradans will experience the third total lunar eclipse of the current tetrad of lunar eclipses.

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Jimmy Westlake: Exploding star visible before dawn

About 10,000 years ago, in a star system far, far away, a layer of superheated hydrogen gas on the surface of a dead star called a white dwarf erupted in a thermonuclear inferno. The light flash from that explosion finally arrived at Earth last week producing the brightest “nova stella” in our skies since at least August 2013.

Jimmy Westlake: Spring arrives Friday

The season of spring officially arrives in the Northern Hemisphere Friday at 3:45 pm, Colorado time. That’s the moment when the sun crosses the equator on its way north — what we call the vernal equinox.

Celestial News: The dippers of spring

The seven bright stars that form the Big Dipper shine prominently above the northeastern horizon as darkness falls in March. It looks as if the Big Dipper is balancing precariously on its bent handle.

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Jimmy Westlake: Dawn arrives at Ceres this week

Images taken of Ceres by NASA's Dawn spacecraft as it approaches the dwarf planet have far exceeded Hubble’s best shots. We now can see craters large and small pocking Ceres’ surface.

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Jimmy Westlake: Leo ushers in spring

The arrival of Leo into our early evening sky is a sure sign that springtime is not far behind.

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Jimmy Westlake: Spot the zodiacal light this week

This “zodiacal light” is visible as a pyramid-shaped glow that extends upward from the sunrise and sunset points on the horizon.

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Jimmy Westlake: Eridanus - a river of stars

Little star above Orion is the first star in a stream of stars that create a river in the sky.

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Jimmy Westlake: Jupiter closest to Earth this week

This Friday,Feb. 6, Jupiter will reach its closest point to the Earth this year and will remain the dominate star-like object in the nighttime sky through spring and summer.

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Jimmy Westlake: Pluto: The dot becomes a world

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, after a nine-year, 3 billion-mile journey, is poised to fly past Pluto this summer and reveal to us, at long last, the mysteries of this misfit planet and its five known moons.

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Jimmy Westlake: Explore the Pleiades and Comet Lovejoy this week

High overhead as darkness falls on cold January evenings is a tiny cluster of stars that is often mistaken for the Little Dipper. Although it does have a dipper shape, with a tiny little bowl and a tiny little handle, its real name is the Pleiades star cluster.

Jimmy Westlake: The Evening Star returns

Have you seen it yet? The planet Venus has come out of hiding from behind the sun and has entered our evening sky for a seven-month run as our lovely Evening Star.

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