Jimmy Westlake columns

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Jimmy Westlake: Fires of Kilauea

This week, I am on the Big Island of Hawaii with 19 other members of the SKY Club, the student astronomy club at Colorado Mountain College.

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Jimmy Westlake: How Orwandil lost his toe

One of the sure signs that spring has arrived is the return of the Big Dipper to our early evening sky.

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Jimmy Westlake: An early Easter this year

Have you ever wondered why the date of Easter Sunday hops around like a bunny rabbit from year to year?

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Jimmy Westlake: Lunar eclipse visible next week

After being treated to four spectacular total lunar eclipses in 2014-15, lunar eclipse watchers will have to settle for a very slight lunar eclipse in 2016.

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Jimmy Westlake: Stalking the unicorn

The celestial Unicorn — Monoceros— is a relative newcomer to the sky, first appearing on a star chart in 1624.

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Jimmy Westlake: Jupiter — Giant of the solar system

In our solar system, Jupiter is the undisputed king of the planets.

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Jimmy Westlake: It’s leap year — time to take up the slack

Have you ever wondered why the month of February has only 28 days most years, but occasionally has 29 days, as it does this year? 2016 is a leap year, and it’s time to take up the slack in the calendar.

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Jimmy Westlake: Winter’s Hexagon of stars

Want to learn your way around the starry winter sky? The Winter Hexagon is a great place to start.

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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.