Jimmy Westlake columns

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Jimmy Westlake: Spring arrives Friday

The season of spring officially arrives in the Northern Hemisphere Friday at 3:45 pm, Colorado time. That’s the moment when the sun crosses the equator on its way north — what we call the vernal equinox.

Celestial News: The dippers of spring

The seven bright stars that form the Big Dipper shine prominently above the northeastern horizon as darkness falls in March. It looks as if the Big Dipper is balancing precariously on its bent handle.

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Jimmy Westlake: Dawn arrives at Ceres this week

Images taken of Ceres by NASA's Dawn spacecraft as it approaches the dwarf planet have far exceeded Hubble’s best shots. We now can see craters large and small pocking Ceres’ surface.

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Jimmy Westlake: Leo ushers in spring

The arrival of Leo into our early evening sky is a sure sign that springtime is not far behind.

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Jimmy Westlake: Spot the zodiacal light this week

This “zodiacal light” is visible as a pyramid-shaped glow that extends upward from the sunrise and sunset points on the horizon.

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Jimmy Westlake: Eridanus - a river of stars

Little star above Orion is the first star in a stream of stars that create a river in the sky.

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Jimmy Westlake: Jupiter closest to Earth this week

This Friday,Feb. 6, Jupiter will reach its closest point to the Earth this year and will remain the dominate star-like object in the nighttime sky through spring and summer.

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Jimmy Westlake: Pluto: The dot becomes a world

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, after a nine-year, 3 billion-mile journey, is poised to fly past Pluto this summer and reveal to us, at long last, the mysteries of this misfit planet and its five known moons.

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Jimmy Westlake: Explore the Pleiades and Comet Lovejoy this week

High overhead as darkness falls on cold January evenings is a tiny cluster of stars that is often mistaken for the Little Dipper. Although it does have a dipper shape, with a tiny little bowl and a tiny little handle, its real name is the Pleiades star cluster.

Jimmy Westlake: The Evening Star returns

Have you seen it yet? The planet Venus has come out of hiding from behind the sun and has entered our evening sky for a seven-month run as our lovely Evening Star.

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2015: A year of meteors, eclipses and dwarf planets

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 2015 celestial events and selected the 10 he is most excited about.

Jimmy Westlake’s 2015 cosmic calendar of celestial events

Jimmy Westlake’s 2015 cosmic calendar of celestial events

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Jimmy Westlake: A new Comet Lovejoy for the new year

It has been one year since Comet Lovejoy 2013 R1 glided across our winter sky and upstaged a much overrated and underperforming Comet ISON. Now, Australian comet-hunter Terry Lovejoy’s newest discovery, Comet Lovejoy 2014 Q2, is delighting sky gazers in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Jimmy Westlake: Quadrantid meteors due this weekend

Early risers on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 4 might see as many as 60 meteors per hour before dawn brightens the sky.

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Jimmy Westlake: Stargazing? Start with the Winter Hexagon

The Winter Hexagon spotlights eight of the 20 brightest stars in earthly skies and makes a superb starting point for backyard astronomers trying to learn their way around the winter sky.