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Articles by J. Alex Knoll

The season’s brightest star shines overhead

Look for Mars high above the southwest horizon at the feet of Leo the lion, with blue-white Regulus well to the west. Saturn is high in the south, with equally bright Spica five degrees below. Mars and Saturn both shine at first magnitude, as bright as a typical star, but Mars fades noticeably over the month....

You won’t have another chance

This is the final countdown to one of the rarest sights in the heavens, a transit of Venus. Venus crosses the face of the sun in eight-year pairings, each cycle separated by 115 years. The last transit of Venus was in 2004. The next is Tuesday, June 5. After that, there won’t be another until December of 2117!
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How many stars can you find in the Beehive Cluster?

Thursday the crescent moon appears high in the south at sunset, forming a line with the Gemini twins Pollux and Castor above. The three are still aligned Friday, but this time the moon is much farther below the two planets — closer actually to Cancer, the dimmest of the zodiac’s 13 constellations.
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Watch as Venus sinks toward the horizon in the coming weeks

The moon wanes before reaching new phase on the 20th, when its visage is bleached out by the glare of the sun. The moon is still there, right in front of our eyes — and right in front of the sun. For people on the west coast and beyond, this is a special new moon, as it crosses directly in front of the Sun, causing an annular solar eclipse....

El Nath can’t hold Venus’ descent

Sunset reveals Venus ablaze high in the west, shining as bright as she gets at magnitude –4.7. And while the light of a planet is usually steady, but as the Evening Star nears the horizon, she begins to shimmer and dance as her light is refracted by Earth’s atmosphere. The planet is so dazzling that at first glance you could easily mistake her for a passing jetliner or even a UFO....

No, It’s Super Moon

Saturday’s full moon is commonly called the Flower Moon the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. But you can call it Super Moon. Not only does this full moon coincide with perigee — its nearest monthly approach to earth — but this is the closest perigee of the year. As a result, the full moon  will appear almost 10 percent bigger and brighter than normal.
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Naptown barBAYq returns with good tastes for good works

Come May 4, the air will be heavy with the smell of charcoal, smoke and slow-cooked meats as dozens of hard-core barbecue aficionados fire up their grills at the second annual Naptown barBAYq contest and music festival.
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Every night is Astronomy Day

Join the party Saturday, April 28, as people around the globe take aim at the heavens for Astronomy Day. This annual event was begun in 1973 by California astronomer Doug Berger, who organized a drive to set up telescopes along city sidewalks and other public spaces so that ordinary people could better appreciate the night sky....

The Parole Rotary is preparing the finishing touches to this year’s second annual ­Naptown barBAYq Contest and Music Festival.
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The new moon bodes well for this year’s Lyrid meteor shower

The new moon in the nether hours between Friday and Saturday leaves this weekend’s night skies clear for the annual Lyrid meteor shower, which peaks Saturday-Sunday.
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