Jimmy Westlake columns

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Jimmy Westlake: The Centaur peeks in

You too can see Centaurus peeking in on us. Go outside around 10 p.m. in late May and look due south, underneath the bright blue star Spica.

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Jimmy Westlake: Here comes Saturn

On May 22, the ringed planet Saturn will be at its closest point to the Earth for the year, a point called opposition. You can spot the planet at around 9:30 p.m. this month.

Jimmy Westlake: Three leaps of the gazelle

I’d like to share with you a story about three pairs of stars that you can spot almost overhead as darkness falls in the late spring.

Jimmy Westlake: Planets cluster in evening sky

Several bright planets are converging on our early evening sky this week and should provide for some great sky watching in the nights ahead.

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Jimmy Westlake: Conquer the Hydra this spring

What has nine heads, deadly breath, poisonous blood and stretches nearly one-third of the way around the whole sky? It’s the dreaded sea serpent known as the Hydra.

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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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