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Jimmy Westlake

Stories by Jimmy

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Jimmy Westlake: Scorpius livens up the summer sky

This celestial scorpion scurries across our southern sky on summer evenings, so this month is prime time for scorpion hunting.

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Jimmy Westlake: Stagecoach Star Party will ‘Embrace the Moonlight’

You are invited to join me and other astronomy enthusiasts from around the community for the Stagecoach Star Party at 9 p.m. Saturday June 18 at the Morrison Cove Boat Ramp on the south shore side of Stagecoach State Park.

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Jimmy Westlake: A dark horse in the Milky Way

Once the lingering twilight of late spring fades, you can see the misty star clouds of the Milky Way arching across our summer sky, from the northeast, all the way to the south.

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Jimmy Westlake: Look for spectacular Saturn

There is no bigger celestial “wow” moment than seeing the planet Saturn through a telescope for the first time.

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Jimmy Westlake: Meet the Crow and the Cup

Winging his way across our springtime sky is a delightful little constellation named Corvus, the Crow.

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Jimmy Westlake: Earth-Mars close encounter

Night owls and early risers might have noticed recently a dazzling orange object shining low in the southern sky in the hours near midnight.

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Jimmy Westlake: Hectostar — 100 Little Diamonds

In about an hour, “Hectostar” had written itself. Here it is. Enjoy.

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Jimmy Westlake: See rare transit of Mercury Monday

For seven and a half hours on May 9, Mercury will slowly transit all the way across the face of the sun, although, we in Colorado won’t see the entire event.

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Jimmy Westlake: Spring’s diamond in the sky

The Spring Diamond asterism, also called the Virgin’s Diamond, is marked at its corners by four of the brightest stars sparkling in the spring sky: Arcturus, Spica, Cor Caroli, and Denebola.

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Jimmy Westlake: Viewing the Southern Cross

Though the Southern Cross is the tiniest of our 88 official constellations, its reputation is far larger than its actual size, even though most people living in the Northern Hemisphere have never seen it.

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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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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 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.

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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.

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Jimmy Westlake: Watch for Taurid fireballs this week

Don’t be surprised if you see a blazing fireball or two streaking across the heavens during the early evening this week.

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Jimmy Westlake: A guided tour of the Halloween sky

This Halloween, while you are out trick-or-treating, take a moment to look up at the stars overhead.

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Jimmy Westlake: Welcome to Milkdromeda

Located at the staggering distance of two-million light years, Andromeda’s galaxy is the most distant object easily visible to the unaided human eye.

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Jimmy Westlake: Planets parade in morning sky

If you are an early riser, you might have noticed several bright objects in the pre-dawn sky and wondered what they are.

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Jimmy Westlake: Three defunct star patterns of fall

In 1929, the International Astronomical Union, or the IAU, sat down to weed through the hundreds of constellations that had been invented over the centuries, and when the smoke cleared, 88 star patterns remained.

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Jimmy Westlake: Total eclipse to darken the moon Sunday

The student members of the Colorado Mountain College SKY Club and I, along with Steamboat Today, would like to invite you and your family out to the CMC campus next Sunday evening for a special “Eclipse Watch” program.

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Jimmy Westlake: The Equinox and the Harvest Moon

Watch for that big ol’ Harvest Moon rising over the eastern mountains just as the sun sinks below the western mountains on Sept. 27.

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Jimmy Westlake: Baseball tonight at Pegasus Park

Hello sports fans. Did you know that there’s a baseball game tonight up in the stars? It’s true.

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Jimmy Westlake: The Eyes of the Dragon

Peering at us from out of the darkness on late summer evenings are the twinkling eyes of Draco, the Dragon.

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Jimmy Westlake: Cassiopeia ushers in autumn

One of the first star patterns to catch your eye in the late summer and early fall is a distinctive group of 5 bright stars in the northeastern sky that forms the shape of a letter “W.”

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Jimmy Westlake: Spot the two giants of summer

Two very large constellations, Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, and Hercules, the Strong Man, take up a large chunk of our late summer sky. We see them standing head to head, high up in the southern sky as darkness falls.

Jimmy Westlake: Exploring the constellation Perseus

With the annual Perseid meteor shower rising to its peak activity this week, it’s a good time to introduce you to the constellation that gives this delightful shower of shooting stars its name.

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Jimmy Westlake: Don’t miss the Perseid meteor shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower is cranking up and is expected to peak around 2 a.m. MDT Thursday, Aug. 13.

Jimmy Westlake: Friday’s full moon — blue or not?

You’ll have an opportunity to witness an unusual “blue moon” this month but don’t expect to go outside and literally see a blue-colored moon staring back at you. The term “blue moon” has an unusual and uncertain history, but it certainly does not refer to the actual spectrum of the moon.

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Jimmy Westlake: Our first look at Pluto

The date was July 14, 1965. The entire world held its collective breath as NASA’s Mariner 4 spacecraft sailed past the red planet Mars at close range. Human exploration of our solar system via robot emissary had begun.

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Jimmy Westlake: You’re invited to the "Stagecoach Star Party”

You are invited to join other astronomy enthusiasts from around the community for the Stagecoach Star Party at 9 p.m. Friday, July 10, at the Morrison Cove boat ramp on the southshore side of Stagecoach State Park, weather permitting.

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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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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.