Jimmy Westlake columns


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Jimmy Westlake: Behold the Dog Star

There are 6,000 or so stars visible to the naked eye under ideal conditions, but only Sirius, the famous Dog Star, can claim the title of “The Brightest Star.”

Jimmy Westlake: History of Groundhog Day

Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day, marking the midpoint of winter. The tradition of this unusual holiday can be traced back for many centuries, though not in the same form we celebrate today.

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Jimmy Westlake: Parade of planets begins this week

The parade of planets begins in earnest at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, when the waning gibbous moon appears right beside dazzling Jupiter, high in the southwestern sky.

Jimmy Westlake: Watch the moon eclipse a star

Early this Tuesday evening, Jan. 19, the waxing gibbous moon will perform a prime time eclipse, or occultation, of the bright star Aldebaran, for folks living in the western United States.

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Celestial News: Catch Comet Catalina this week

What could be the best comet of the year is closest to Earth this week and is easily visible using binoculars and small telescopes.

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Top 10 celestial events of 2016

There is something exciting happening in the sky almost every night of the year, if you know when and where to look. Jimmy Westlake has sifted through all of the 2016 celestial events and selected the 10 that he am the most excited about. These are his “Top 10 Celestial Events” for 2016, in chronological order.

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Jimmy Westlake: Find Orion’s great nebula

Anyone who has ever looked up at the starry, winter sky has noticed it, although they might not have known what they were seeing. The three bright stars in a neat little row stand out among the other stars like a neon sign.

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Jimmy Westlake: Start your new year with a meteor shower

The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak at 1 p.m. Jan. 4 when up to 120 meteors per hour can be viewed.

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Jimmy Westlake: What was the Christmas Star?

About 2,000 years ago, St. Matthew recorded that the birth of Jesus was accompanied by something extraordinary that appeared in the sky over Bethlehem. For centuries since, astronomers have pondered the nature of this Star of Bethlehem.

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Jimmy Westlake: A telescope under the tree

When I was 10 years old, my mom and dad purchased a little 2.5-inch reflecting telescope and put it under the Christmas tree with my name on it.

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Celestial News: Get ready for Geminid meteor shower

Wow! Did you see that? Look — there goes another one! Get ready for the best meteor shower of the year, the Geminid meteor shower.

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Jimmy Westlake: A tale of 2 star clusters

On cold, crisp December evenings, you can spot two glittering star clusters in the constellation of Taurus the Bull, high up in the eastern sky around 8 p.m. They are the Hyades and the Pleiades star clusters.

Westlake: Comet Catalina's pre-dawn performance

Formally named C/2013 US10, Comet Catalina comes to us from the distant Oort comet cloud that surrounds our solar system. Several million years ago, some unknown disturbance, such as a passing star, nudged C/2013 US10 into a trajectory that would take it into the inner solar system for the first time.

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Jimmy Westlake: Auriga, the Charioteer

What’s that flashy, golden star hovering over the northeastern mountains as darkness falls in mid-November? It’s Capella, the third brightest star visible in Colorado skies and the brightest star in our constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer.

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Jimmy Westlake: Go fishing for Pisces this month

The patch of the sky that appears overhead about 8 p.m. in early November is informally known as the “Celestial Sea.” That’s because it is home to all sorts of watery constellations, including the Dolphin, the Sea Goat, the Whale, the River, the Water Carrier and the Southern Fish, just to name a few.