March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Celestial Highlights for 2015

Posted: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

by Robert Victor

These monthly charts plot positions of the stars of first magnitude or brighter and the five naked-eye planets at evening or morning mid-twilight. The charts can be used to follow the comings and goings of planets and stars. This selection includes dates of peak interest, when planets appear strikingly close to each other. We hope you and your students enjoy following the planets from one night to the next surrounding these occasions!

January 2015 at dusk: Mercury approaches within 0.6 degree lower right of Venus on Jan. 10. Venus and Jupiter visible simultaneously above opposite horizons starting late in month. See also the January 2015 Sky Calendar. Follow these two brilliant planets for the next five months, until their very close pairing on the evening of June 30.

February 2015 at dusk: Close gathering of crescent Moon, Venus, and Mars on Feb. 20. Venus-Mars appear closest to each other on the next evening, Feb. 21.

June 2015 at dusk: Watch Venus close in on Jupiter until their spectacular close pairing on June 30. See also the June 2015 Sky Calendar.

July 2015 at dusk: Venus and Jupiter spread apart and sink lower as the month progresses. Venus drops below the horizon before month’s end, with Jupiter soon to follow, in early August.

October 2015 at dawn: Venus and Jupiter, for the second time this year, form a close pairing, on the mornings of Oct. 25 and 26. Don’t miss the view through a telescope! Venus, Mars, and Jupiter fit within a 5-degree field of binoculars for eight mornings, Oct. 22-29, forming a trio. See also the October 2015 Sky Calendar.

February 2016 at dawn: All five naked-eye planets are easily visible, simultaneously, from late January until late in February. From the east-southeast to the west, in order, they are: Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter.

Also, watch the Moon pass each planet at intervals of approximately one month. In the evening sky, the crescent Moon will pass Venus on Dec. 22, 2014, and on the following dates in 2015: Jan. 21, Feb. 20 (close!), Mar. 22 (close), Apr. 21, May 21, Jun. 19, Jul. 18 (close!). Students can watch for the first crescent Moon low in the western sky in twilight up to three days before its conjunction with Venus, then observe the Moon nightly for about two weeks, until Full.

And don’t miss the two total lunar eclipses in 2015. As seen from California:

Morning of Saturday, April 4 — Moon briefly in total eclipse, from 4:58 a.m. until 5:03 a.m. PDT. The Moon will set, around sunrise, during or soon after the concluding partial phase of the eclipse.

Evening of Sunday, September 27: — Moon rises in partial eclipse, around sunset. Moon will be in total eclipse from 7:11 p.m. until 8:23 p.m. PDT, followed by the concluding partial eclipse.

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.

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California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

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Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

Volunteer

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Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Marian Murphy-Shaw

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Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

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Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.