Wednesday, 01 February 2023

Lake County Skies: Get ready for the Ring Master!

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Lake County Skies on March 13, 2008 at 9 p.m.

 



LAKE COUNTY March is the month when the glorious stars of winter give way to the more sedate stars of spring.


On our star chart, you can see the constellation of Leo the Lion rising in the east. In Greek mythology, Leo was a huge beast that terrorized the Peloponnesian villages, devouring anyone he met. It took Hercules, the Greek strongman, to subdue Leo.


The brightest star in Leo is Regulus. It’s five times larger than our sun, and spins very fast – once every 15 hours. As a result, it looks like an egg!



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Our Sun and Regulus, courtesy of Astronomy Now Online.



Sharing the spotlight in the spring night skies is the planet Saturn, the Ring Master. Saturn is visible in Leo this year, and is about as bright as Regulus. Our star chart shows its location.



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Saturn courtesy of NASA.



Saturn is the second-largest planet in our solar system. Unlike the earth, which is solid, Saturn is a big ball of gas.


Saturn has approximately 44 moons. The beautiful ring system was created when one of the moons drifted too close and broke up into thousands of chunks of rock in Saturn’s upper atmosphere. Even through a small telescope, Saturn is a magnificent object.


Looking toward the north, we see Ursa Major, the big bear overhead. Some of the stars in this constellation make up The Big Dipper. The two stars that make up the end of the cup of the dipper point to Polaris, the North Star.



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Image courtesy of Jerry Lodriguss.



For more information about astronomy and local astronomy-related events, visit the Taylor Observatory Web site at www.taylorobservatory.org. On March 8, starting at 8 p.m., the observatory will be open to the public. The topic for the evening is “Scopes for Folks,” a presentation about telescopes for the average person. You will also be able to view Saturn through the observatory’s telescopes.


John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.


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Upcoming Calendar

1Feb
02.01.2023 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
East Region Town Hall
1Feb
02.01.2023 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clear Lake hitch listening session
2Feb
02.02.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
2Feb
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Clearlake City Council
8Feb
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100+ Women Strong in Lake County
9Feb
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11Feb
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