Jimmy Westlake columns

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Celestial: October brings celestial wonders

Autumn officially arrived Thursday, and with it, come cool, clear fall evenings, perfect for stargazing. The sun is setting well before 7 p.m. now, so stargazing can commence much earlier than during the summer months.

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Celestial News: Autumnal Equinox arrives Thursday

This year, the season of autumn officially arrives for the northern hemisphere at 7:21 a.m. Thursday, Colorado time. Our season of autumn begins the instant the Sun crosses the equator on its way south.

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Jimmy Westlake: The king and queen of the sky

When I was a knee-high astronomer, one of our favorite constellations was a distinctive pattern of five bright stars that we called “The W.”

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Celestial News: See Aquila the Eagle this week

Stroll outside on any late summer evening, look straight up and three very bright stars will catch your eye. These stars are named Vega, Deneb and Altair, and their familiar pattern is nicknamed the Summer Triangle.

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Jimmy Westlake: Explore the Northern Cross

Just go outside around 9:30 p.m. and look straight up. There’s the Summer Triangle, right overhead.

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Celestial News: Spot King Sobieski’s Shield this week

Only two constellations can be traced back to actual historical figures. One is Coma Berenices, a spring constellation representing the hair of Queen Berenices of Egypt. The other is the summer constellation named Scutum Sobiescianum, or Scutum, for short.

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Jimmy Westlake: See a sky full of planets this week

While you were outside watching for Perseid meteors last week, did you notice the sky full of planets?

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Jimmy Westlake: A banner year for Perseid meteors

The annual Perseid meteor shower is cranking up this week and is expected to peak just before dawn on Friday morning.

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Jimmy Westlake: Poniatowski’s bull

The distinctive V-shaped group of stars that forms the face of this summertime bull bears a striking resemblance to the more familiar face of our wintertime bull, Taurus.

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Celestial News: Summer Triangle rides high

When the summer sun goes down, three of the first stars to peep through the lingering twilight are the bright stars that form the unmistakable asterism called the Summer Triangle.

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Jimmy Westlake: Welcome to the dog days of summer

The use of the phrase “dog days” can be traced back over 2,000 years to the early Greek civilization.

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Jimmy Westlake: Yampa River Star Party this Friday

This coming Friday evening, I will be conducting a summer stargazing event out at the Yampa River State Park campground, three miles west of Hayden on U.S. Highway 40, beginning at 9 p.m.

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Celestial News: Dwarf planet update

It’s been a big year for the dwarf planets in our solar system. It was about one year ago that the world got its first view of the little planet Pluto, when the New Horizons spacecraft shot through the Pluto system like a speeding bullet.

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Jimmy Westlake: Scorpius livens up the summer sky

This celestial scorpion scurries across our southern sky on summer evenings, so this month is prime time for scorpion hunting.

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Celestial News: Are you an Ophiuchan?

If you are an Ophiuchan, please raise your hand. Hmm … I’m not seeing many hands out there. Perhaps you are an Ophiuchan and don’t know it. Please allow me to explain.

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