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10120Fwd: STARGAZER column for Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005

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  • Michele Pain
    Jan 1 10:54 AM
      Info about the comet! For any night cachers out there who happen to
      look up from their gpsrs!

      Begin forwarded message:

      > From: Pjderrick@...
      > Date: January 1, 2005 10:27:41 AM CST
      > To: Pjderrick@...
      > Subject: STARGAZER column for Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005
      > STARGAZER column for Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005
      > Comet Machholz Greets the New Year
      > Happy New Year!  The Stargazer hopes 2005 proves to be your best year
      > yet.  Astronomically, Mother Nature is doing her part by offering a
      > New Year's treat--Comet Machholz.
      > Discovered last Aug. 27 by amateur astronomer Don Machholz, the
      > comet, officially named Comet Machholz, C/2004 Q2, became visible in
      > our skies in December and will be at its best this month. 
      > Although is not especially bright and lacking the prominent tail for
      > which comets are known, Machholz is still interesting.  It is visible
      > to naked eyes under dark skies, and can be seen in binoculars from
      > urban areas, although not yet easily.  But what it lacks in brightness
      > it makes up for in size.  Passing relatively near Earth (nearly as
      > close as Venus gets to us), it appears larger than most comets--about
      > the size of a full Moon. 
      > Conveniently, it is visible in the evening as the skies darken, and
      > remains in view well past midnight.  Over the next few nights it
      > passes just over 10 degrees to the upper right of the bright reddish
      > star, Aldebaran, the "eye of the bull."  (The width of your fist held
      > at arm's length is 10 degrees.)  At 8 p.m., Aldebaran is 5-6 fists
      > above the eastern horizon, above the familiar Orion.
      > The evening of Jan. 8, with the comet at its brightest, it passes 2
      > degrees (four moonwidths) to the right of the Pleiades star cluster. 
      > If it has developed a visible tail by then, the tail will be pointed
      > toward the Pleiades, producing a beautiful sight in binoculars.
      > The evening of Jan. 17, Machholz is in Perseus and passes 2 degrees
      > below the star, Algol, then Jan. 22 3 degrees above the brighter star,
      > Mirfak.  By February the comet will have dimmed notably as it swings
      > past Cassiopeia.  Mar. 9 it passes near Polaris, the North Star, and
      > then through the Big Dipper in late April and early May, by which time
      > it will be quite faint.
      > For more detailed information see skyandtelescope.com.
      > Next Two Weeks: Average sunrise: 7:28 a.m.; average sunset: 5:36 p.m. 
      > (for Waco, TX)
      > * Today Earth reaches perihelion, when it is nearest the Sun in its
      > elliptical orbit. 
      > * The Moon is at 3rd quarter Monday (Jan. 3).
      > * The mornings of Jan. 6-11, reddish Mars passes to the upper left of
      > the slightly brighter reddish star Antares, providing an opportunity
      > to see how Antares, which means "rival of Mars," got its name. 
      > * Fri. (Jan. 7) morning, the crescent Moon, Mars and Antares form a
      > triangle low in the southeast. 
      > * The morning of Jan. 8, near the southeastern horizon 45 minutes
      > before sunrise, Mercury is just above brilliant Venus with a crescent
      > Moon to their upper right and the Mars-Antares pair 12 degrees above
      > the Moon. 
      > * The morning of Jan. 13, Venus and Mercury pass less than a
      > moonwidth from each other. 
      > * The Moon is new Jan. 10.
      > Naked-eye Planets.  (The Sun, Moon and planets rise in the east and
      > set in the west due to Earth' west-to-east rotation.)  Evening:
      > Saturn, rising at sunset, is in the sky all night.  Morning: Mercury
      > and Venus, the "evening star," are near the southeastern horizon just
      > before dawn, with Mars a bit further up and much brighter Jupiter high
      > above them.
      > Astronomy Class.  The Stargazer's 4-session "Learning the Night Sky"
      > class will be Jan. 3-6 from 7-9 p.m.  The cost is $25 per person with
      > family discounts and scholarships available.  Call or email for
      > information or to register.
      > ==================================================
      > Stargazer appears every other week in the Waco Tribune-Herald and
      > other Texas newspapers.  Paul Derrick is an amateur astronomer who
      > lives in Waco.  Write him at 918 N. 30th St., Waco, TX 76707, call or
      > fax at (254) 753-6920, or e-mail at pjderrick@...
      > Copyright 2005 by Paul Derrick.  Permission is granted for free
      > electronic distribution as long as these paragraphs are included. 
      > Please obtain permission from the author for publication in any other
      > form.  To be added to (or removed from) the free e-mail distribution
      > list, send your e-mail address (and name) to pjderrick@....
      > * * See the Stargazer Web site at http://www.stargazerpaul.com * *