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Regulars (Sky Watch by J. Alex Knoll)

Supermoon comes just days after summer solstice

Thursday, June 20, is Midsummer’s Night, the shortest night of the year, with barely nine hours of darkness. Then, at 1:04am Friday, the sun reaches its northernmost position above the earth, marking the astronomical beginning of summer for us in the Northern Hemisphere. It is our longest day, with more than 14 hours 54 minutes of sunlight.
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The strained relationship of Cepheus and his daughter Andromeda

When we look to the night sky for father figures, we’re hard-pressed. There are heroes and rogues, serpents and dragons, birds and beasts, fish and fishermen, harps and chariots. But there is only one father among the constellations, and not a good role model at that.
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Three planets toy with the sun

This week boasts the earliest sunrises of the year, when old Sol crests the horizon at 5:41am. We’re still a couple weeks from solstice, the overall longest day of the year, and the latest sunset won’t come for another two weeks after that. Why? Several reasons, including earth’s not-quite-spherical shape, its elliptical orbit around the sun and the varying point of high noon across the globe.
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You’ll have to explore Canes Venatici

As evening twilight gives way to darkness, the first star to appear is likely no star at all but rather Venus, so bright you may be able to spot it in the west-northwest before sunset. By the time the sun does set, there should be no mistaking Venus, although the evening star does have company.
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Mercury, Venus and Jupiter gather in the glow of twilight

As the sun sets, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury emerge in its wake. These three planets will spend the coming week in one another’s company, playing a celestial game of leap-frog low in the west-northwest after sunset.
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Venus, Jupiter and Mercury are aligning in the west

The moon is at first-quarter Thursday the 16th, when it appears high in the southwest at sunset and sets around 1am. Over the next week it shifts roughly 10 degrees to the east at sunset each night, until on the 23rd, the night of full moon, it rises as the sun sets and sets the next morning as the sun rises.
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Can you find Corona Borealis?

Thursday’s new moon is hidden amid the glare of the sun, but it reemerges Friday as a most slender, young crescent that you just might be able to see. You’ll need clear skies, an unobstructed view to the west-northwest and spot-on timing, as this moon appears low against the horizon for 15 minutes at most immediately following sunset....

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower returns

The moon wanes through morning skies this week, reaching last quarter Thursday, May 2, when it shines between the faint constellations Capricornus and Aquarius and is high in the south by dawn.
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Can you notice the Seeliger Effect?

Thursday marks April’s full moon, also called the Pink Moon for the early blooming phlox, the Grass Moon for the return of verdant lawns and the Fish Moon, hereabouts commemorating the opening of rockfish season. That evening, the moon rises in the east as the sun sets in the west. In parts of Africa, the Middle East, Australia and Asia, Earth’s shadow will partially eclipse the moon....

The waxing moon makes predawn skies your best bet for this annual meteor shower

The moon is at first-quarter phase Thursday the 18th. Even with only half its face illuminated, the moon washes out the stars of amid the constellation Cancer the crab, in which it rests that night. But if you look beyond the moon, you will see that it is juxtaposed between a triangle of three more or less equally bright stars: Procyon to the west, Regulus to the east and Pollux to the north.
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