Jimmy Westlake columns


Jimmy Westlake: Meteor shower rings In 2014

Early risers on the mornings of Friday, Jan. 3 and Saturday, Jan. 4 might see as many as 40 to 60 meteors per hour in the dark hours before sunrise.

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Jimmy Westlake's top celestial events for 2014: The year of eclipses

Year 2014 will be one of eclipses. Two total eclipses of the moon and a partial eclipse of the sun will be the real headline grabbers in 2014, but there are plenty of bright planets and showers of shooting stars to keep us looking up all year long.

Jimmy Westlake's 2014 cosmic calendar of celestial events

JImmy Westlake's 2014 cosmic calendar of celestial events

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Jimmy Westlake: What is the Star of Bethlehem?

For centuries, astronomers have wondered about the nature of this Star of Bethlehem. Was it a one-time supernatural event, never seen before and never seen since?

Jimmy Westlake: Sun bottoms out this week

The winter solstice is the astronomical moment that marks the end of the season of fall and the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It happens this year at 10:11 a.m. MST Saturday.

Jimmy Westlake: Catch a falling star this week

The best annual meteor shower of the year is in progress this week and is rising toward a spectacular peak before dawn next Saturday morning Dec. 14. It’s the Geminid meteor shower, and it could bring as many as 120 shooting stars per hour to our sky.

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Jimmy Westlake: RIP Comet ISON

Comet ISON 2012 S1 made its death-defying plunge into the sun’s atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day, and the sun won.

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Jimmy Westlake: A tale of two star clusters

On cold, crisp November 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.

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Celestial News with Jimmy Westlake: Comet ISON springs to life

After lagging behind its projected brightness curve for weeks, Comet ISON suddenly sprang to life late last week and now is the brightest of five comets visible in our predawn sky.

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Celestial News with Jimmy Westlake: Comet Lovejoy upstages ISON

Who would have imagined that another new comet would upstage the great and powerful ISON? Enter Comet Lovejoy, or Comet C/2013 R1, as astronomers like to call it.

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Jimmy Westlake’s Celestial News: Taurid meteor shower to treat us to November fireballs

Don’t be surprised if you see a blazing fireball or two streaking across the heavens while you are driving home after dark this week. It’s just the annual Taurid meteor showers reaching their peak of activity.

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Jimmy Westlake: See Venus at its best

As the first “star” to pop out after sundown, Venus is popularly known as the Evening Star, but, of course, it isn’t a star at all. Venus is the second planet from the sun in our solar system and shines by reflected sunlight.

Jimmy Westlake: Two bright stars of autumn

In early autumn, the number of bright stars has been reduced to five. The two bright stars that are specifically associated with the season of autumn are Fomalhaut and Capella.

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Jimmy Westlake: Here comes Comet ISON

No one knows how brightly Comet ISON will shine after it swings around the sun on Thanksgiving Day. Right now, it is a faint wisp of light in the pre-dawn sky, invisible to the unaided eye, but very close to the bright planet Mars and visible in backyard telescopes.

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Jimmy Westlake: Chasing the Northern Lights

A group of 22 students, faculty, and staff — all members of the Colorado Mountain College SKY Club — recently flew to Alaska in search of the Northern Lights. These magnificent lights, also called the aurora borealis, are rare from Colorado but are more common as you head north toward the Arctic Circle. From far northern latitudes, the aurora can be seen on most dark, clear nights of the year.