Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February stargazing

I can already see so much more of the night sky here on South Padre Island than I ever could while living in Houston. It's glorious, and rather spooky.

Hot Dust
The closest and brightest supernova in centuries flared to life in the night sky 30 years ago this month. In this composite image from several telescopes, massive clouds of dust fill the space around Supernova 1987a. [ALMA/NASA/et al]

Stargazing Summary
Venus and Mars remain steady companions in the early evening sky this month. Venus, the Evening Star, is the brighter of the two, with orange Mars staying just above it. One of the first signs of spring, the constellation Leo, begins poking its nose into the eastern evening sky, and clears the horizon by around nightfall at month's end.

More stargazing information

Radio Program Highlights
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January 30-February 5: Moon meanderings. The Moon passes several bright points of light in the night sky this week, including the planets Venus and Mars, and the star Aldebaran, the "eye" of the bull. Join us for the Moon and its companions, plus much more.

February 6-12: Looking for neighbors. A spacecraft that's on its way to a rendezvous with an asteroid will search for other asteroids that share Earth's orbit around the Sun, and we'll have details. Join us for the search for Trojan asteroids and more, right here. 

February 13-19: Comets and centaurs. A comet is putting in a pretty good appearance in the evening sky this month, and we'll have details. We'll also talk about unstable asteroids in the realm of the outer planets. Join us for Comet Encke, centaurs, and much more.

February 20-26: Bright blast. The closest and brightest supernova in centuries flared to life in the night sky 30 years ago this week, and we'll tell you about its discovery, and what astronomers have learned about it. Join us for Supernova 1987A and more.

February 27-28: Climbing through time. A Mars rover is climbing up the side of a mountain, allowing it to see rock layers deposited early in the planet's history. Join us for Curiosity's climb through time, the discovery of radio waves from the Sun, and much more. 

Program schedule »

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Coming up in StarDate Magazine
In our next issue, we'll explain how studying sand dunes can teach us about winds and geology on Mars and Titan. We'll also bring you up to date on a new X-ray telescope soon to be launched to the International Space Station.

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News from the Observatory
Robert Shelton is New President of Giant Magellan Telescope Organization
The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization recently announced the appointment of physicist Robert N. Shelton, PhD, to the position of President. The University of Texas at Austin is a founding partner of the group building the GMT, which is poised to be the world's largest telescope in the next decade.

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About SkyTips
SkyTips is a monthly email newsletter for visitors to McDonald Observatory and StarDate Online. Each issue features stargazing highlights, upcoming StarDate radio program descriptions, and other news. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and family.

SkyTips is a publication of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory Education and Outreach Office, 2515 Speedway C1402, Austin, TX 78712. Reproduction of SkyTips content is permitted with proper credit given to McDonald Observatory.

and from

Many cultures have given distinct names to each recurring full moon. The names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. The Farmer's Almanac lists several names that are commonly used in the United States. The almanac explains that there were some variations in the moon names, but in general, the same ones were used among the Algonquin tribes from New England on west to Lake Superior. European settlers followed their own customs and created some of their own names.
This is when full moons will occur in 2017, according to NASA:
DateNameU.S. EastUTC
Jan. 12Wolf Moon6:34 a.m.11:34
Feb. 10Snow Moon7:33 p.m.00:33 (2/11)
Mar. 12Worm Moon10:54 a.m.15:54
Apr. 11Pink Moon2:08 a.m.07:08
May 10Flower Moon5:43 p.m.22:43
June 9Strawberry Moon9:10 a.m.14:10
July 9Buck Moon12:07 a.m.05:07
Aug. 7Sturgeon Moon2:11 p.m.19:11
Sept. 6Harvest Moon3:03 a.m.08:03
Oct. 5Hunter's Moon2:40 p.m.19:40
Nov. 4Beaver Moon12:23 a.m.05:23
Dec. 3Cold Moon10:47 a.m.15:47

Set your vacations now!!

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