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What’s In the Sky on the 4th of July Weekend (Besides Fireworks)

Enjoy your 4th of July and while you’re out watching the fireworks, enjoy these sights over the weekend. July 4th weekend: The Moon will start low on the horizon on July 4th and gradually climb higher in the sky over the weekend going from waxing crescent to first quarter moon. Right at sunset, Mercury and …

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The North Star

Polaris, also known as the North Star, is located at the very tip of the group of stars called the Little Dipper.  As you may have guessed from its name, the North Star is always located in the direction of North. But why does this happen for this one particular star? If we imagine the …

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The Seasonal Sky

You probably know that the cyclic change of seasons on Earth is caused by the planet’s 23.5 degree tilt which allows for the Sun’s light to shine more directly down during Summer. The more direct sunlight is the key to the warmth of these months. Conversely, the Sun’s light shines less directly during the winter …

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Say Goodbye… To the Winter Constellations

The night sky is in transition right now from what we call the “winter constellations” to the “summer constellations.”  Some of the more well-known winter constellations include Orion, Gemini, and Canis Major. While many of the winter constellations are still visible early in the night, they will soon drop below the horizon until next fall …

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Sirius

The star Sirius is the brightest star in our night sky.  Located in Canis Major (and therefore sometimes called the Dog Star), Sirius is best observed during the winter months in northern latitudes.  To find Canis Major and Sirius, recruit the help of Orion. Follow Orion’s belt stars to the left and they will lead …

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Retrograde Motion

Retrograde might sound like a ‘70s album, but when we’re talking in astronomy terms, it’s something much more ‘far out.’ When referring to the planets, retrograde motion describes the apparent backwards motion (observed in comparison to the background stars) a planet takes in its week-to-week journey across the sky and it only occurs for a …

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