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Skywatch for the week of March 4, 2024

Skywatch Monday 3-4-2024.mp3

Mon Mar 4, 2024 LEO’S RETURN

March, it’s said, comes in like a lion. This is meant to refer to the changeable weather of the new month, as cold winter air meets the warm breezes of spring. But there’s also an astronomical connection. Look south this evening and there you will find the bright stars of winter, in constellations such as Orion the Hunter, Taurus the Bull, the Big and Little Dogs, Auriga the Charioteer, and the Gemini, all marked by bright stars. Now look toward the east. Not much there. But toward the eastern horizon, you'll find another star called Regulus, and it represents the heart of the constellation Leo the Lion. Leo is the first of our springtime constellations. The Lion always comes into our eastern evening sky when March begins.


SkywatchTuesday 3-5-2024.mp3


At this time of the year the Big Dipper is just off the northeastern horizon around 8 o’clock in the evening. Find someplace outside where you have a clear view toward the northeast, without any streetlights to interfere with your view. That's where you'll find the Big Dipper, standing on its handle, beginning low near the horizon. Now draw a line between the top two stars of the Big Dipper's bowl, and extend that line to the left, and it leads you to the North Star, not a particularly bright star, but it's not known for being bright, just for being in the north. The North Star, whose official name is Polaris, is at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper, which is very hard to see because its stars are fairly dim.


Skywatch Wednesday 3-6-2024.mp3


The Great Pyramid of Khufu is aligned with the compass directions of North, South, East and West. Near the pyramid, the statue of the Sphinx also faces toward the east and the rising sun, where according to Egyptian tradition, all things are born. The Great Pyramid, along with other pyramids nearby, mimic the positions of the three stars in the belt of the constellation Orion, known to the Pharaohs as the god Osiris. In Egyptian lore, Osiris served as the judge of each pharaoh, determining if their souls were to meet oblivion, or to be made immortal and live among the Ikhemu-Sek, the realm of the imperishable stars – that is, the circumpolar constellations in the northern sky which never set, and in the center of which is the star Thuban in the constellation Draco, the north star of the Pharaohs.


Skywatch Thursday 3-7-2024.mp3

Thu Mar 7, 2024 CANOPUS

If you're outside after sunset tonight, or on any clear evening this month, you should notice a bright star-like object low in the southern sky. It hovers there near the horizon, and at first you might think it was an airplane's landing light. If you've been watching too much TV, you might even think it was a UFO. This particular UFO is easy to identify - It's the star Canopus, second brightest star of the night sky. Canopus, an important star for navigators, is in the constellation of Carina the keel; it marks the rudder of the famous mythological ship Argo, which carried Jason and his crew in search of the Golden Fleece. Folks in the Northern U.S. cannot see this star - the curvature of the earth blocks it from view. Only at southerly latitudes like Florida can Canopus be seen.


Skywatch Friday 3-8-2024.mp3

Fri Mar 8, 2024 NAME THAT PLANET 2

Let’s play “name that planet.” I’ll name some of their features, and you try to identify it. The first planet has craters named for Cleopatra, Amelia Earhart, and Sacajawea, plus two continents - Ishtar and Aphrodite. The planet is Venus, and its features are named after love goddesses or famous women. Now try, Tombaugh, Norgay Mountains, Tartarus, Balrog and Cthulhu. That would be Pluto. How about the plains of Utopia and Chryse, or the Hellas basin, the Tharsis bulge, the Mariner Valley or Mount Olympus? That’s Mars. Where do you find the Caloris basin, or craters named Bach, Velazquez, Cervantes, Chopin, Tolkien, Shakespeare or Mozart? Artists, musicians and writers’ names can be found on Mercury.