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The interloper visits Spica and Mercury

Mercury is putting on its best pre-dawn show of 2013, more than doubling in brightness this week, from +1 magnitude to –0.5 (each order of magnitude is exponential, so an increase from +1 to 0 is a doubling). Monday marks the innermost planet’s greatest elongation — its farthest point away from the sun as seen from earth and its highest point above the horizon. Mercury rises a little before 6am and climbs nearly 15 degrees above the southeast horizon before the sun rises more than an hour later. Ten degrees above Mercury is blue-white Spica, but even this first-magnitude star pales compared to Mercury this week.
    First discovered last September, Comet ISON is heading into the inner solar system for the first time, coming within 700,000 miles of the sun November 27. If the comet survives that close encounter, it could live up to the comet of the century billing. If not, the next two weeks are your best chance to spot this long-distance traveler.
    With binoculars or a small telescope, look for ISON one degree to the west of Spica Sunday before dawn and less than one-half degree to the east of the star the next morning. By next Thursday and Friday, ISON will be within 10 degrees of Mercury — well within your binoculars’ field of view. Perhaps by then it will be bright enough to see with the unaided eye.
    Sunday marks the full moon, the Beaver Moon and the Frost Moon according to lore. The full moon floats just six degrees below the miniature dipper-shape of the Pleiades star cluster, while Monday night it is even closer to Aldebaran, the red eye of Taurus the bull.
    The full moon’s glow washes out all but the brightest meteors in this year’s Leonid shower, which peaks between the 16th and 18th. Still, the Leonids are active through the month, so patience or luck will likely reward you with a few of these shooting stars.

Satisfy thirst and more at the Mid-Atlantic Brewsic Festival and Fire Truck Show

    When my wife married me many decades ago, she assumed I would outgrow my childhood fascination with fire engines. I haven’t; I won’t; and this weekend I will satisfy my inner child at the Mid-Atlantic Brewsic Festival and Fire Truck Show. I’m going Saturday for the fire trucks and the music.
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However you play it, natural gas export is a high stakes game

     The biggest development proposed in Southern Maryland history looks much like a high-stakes game, with scenic Cove Point at the center of the board. At stake are millions of dollars in tax revenue, thousands of new jobs — and a quiet way of life Calvert County residents hope to preserve.
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An American in Annapolis

     I moved here from El Salvador 25 years ago. I came to try to have a better life. Especially for my sons and daughters. If I come here I can make more, I can give whatever my kids ask for.
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Bay Weekly’s here!

That’s front desk receptionist Yvonne Anderson’s emailed message to Maryland Department of Agriculture staff every Thursday, as soon as driver Bill Visnansky makes that Harry S Truman Parkway stop on his Annapolis route.

    Where do you get your Bay Weekly? Send your favorite pick-up spot and a photo to editor@bayweekly.com.

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Working at Dick and Jane’s in ­Harwood

Harner: With the late winter, things have been late comin’. It’s the first time it’s ever been this late.
    Englom: The first crop of peaches was taken out by the last late frost. We’re famous for our peaches, too. But we won’t be seeing many local ones for a few weeks.
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Sailing into your ken

    If you’re looking, you, like John O. Rogers, of Churchton, might find Pride of Baltimore II sailing into your Chesapeake viewshed. On Monday July 7, Pride set sail south, leaving Baltimore for Piscataway Park on the Potomac in Prince Georges County. She arrives Thursday, July 10, to join in Celebrating the Potomac on Saturday July 12. Deck tours are free from 11am to 5pm, with a $65 special sail (w/age discounts) later that evening (www.pride2.org).
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Talent Machine’s young actors are rehearsing for life

     Talent Machine is a gifted crew of kids and volunteers who make magic for audiences of every age. This year, the seven- to 14-year-old troupe is working on Peter Pan; the kids have learned lines, choreography and music to captivate audiences. From this experience, they’ll take away more than memories and new friends.
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Creativity comes out to play in Twin Beach Players’ Kids
Playwriting Festival

     For stage-smitten elementary-, middle- and high-schoolers, winning a spot in Twin Beach Players Kids Playwriting Festival means they’ve made it to the All-Star Game. The nine-year-old competition — open to all school-age children in Maryland — gives kids their moment to shine with an added bonus: $100 for top six winning plays.
    But it’s love, not money, that sparks these playwrights.
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In its 4th year, the Annapolis Irish Festival draws an ever-larger crowd seeking Celtic music and heritage


Tap and dance along with 12 Celtic bands and five schools of Irish dance at the Annapolis Irish Festival. The music starts on Friday, July 11, at 4pm on three stages and continues through Saturday night.
    Festival organizer Eddie McGowan loves “the whole community feel of the festival. It is not just a beer-drinking festival. It is a family event with all ages coming out. The Irish heritage in Annapolis is strong.”
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