Jimmy Westlake columns

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Jimmy Westlake: New Horizons spacecraft zooms closer to Pluto

On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, after a nine and a half year journey, finally will fly through the Pluto system and reveal the mysteries of this misfit planet and its five moons to us at long last.

Jimmy Westlake: Yampa River Star Party this Saturday

Jimmy Westlake 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. Saturday.

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Jimmy Westlake: Venus and Jupiter meet for spectacular conjunction

On the evening of Tuesday, June 30, starting about an hour after sunset, Venus and Jupiter will appear to pass so close to each other, about 1/3º, that you will be able to hide both planets behind the tip of your pinky finger held out at arm’s length.

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Celestial News: Libra, the misfit constellation

A closer look at the zodiac, or "the circle of animals," shows Libra the Scales is a misfit.

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Jimmy Westlake: Look east for heaven’s little harp

What’s that bright star rising in the northeastern sky as darkness falls this month? It’s the star Vega, and its arrival is a sure sign that summer is just around the bend.

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.

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