January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Celestial Highlights for November and Early December 2015

Posted: Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

by Robert C. Victor; Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller

In evening twilight in the course of November, the Summer Triangle with brightest member blue-white Vega at its northwest corner, drifts slowly from nearly overhead into the high western sky. Meanwhile lonely Fomalhaut, Mouth of the Southern Fish, moves from southeast toward the south. Bright Arcturus departs in west-northwest, making way for almost equally bright Capella rising in northeast. Low in southwest to west-southwest, Saturn and Antares 8 degrees to its left are challenges for binoculars early in month, until their quick departure. Aldebaran, eye of Taurus the Bull, is at opposition to Sun around December 1, so may be seen rising in east-northeast during twilight in late November.

In November’s morning twilight, Venus in east to southeast easily ranks first in brilliance. Next is Jupiter, climbing 6 to 34 degrees to Venus’ upper right and almost reaching south. The next dozen slots are taken by stars, headed by Sirius in southwest, Arcturus climbing in east-northeast to east, and Capella well up in northwest. Sirius and Capella mark the southern and northern vertices of the Winter Hexagon. In clockwise order beginning at Sirius, its other members are Procyon, Pollux (with Castor), Capella, Aldebaran, Rigel, and back to Sirius, with Betelgeuse inside. Regulus, heart of Leo the Lion, reaches its high point in the south while chasing the Hexagon across the sky. Following Regulus is the line of planets Jupiter-Mars-Venus, and finally Spica, spike of grain in Virgo, rising up from low in east-southeast to well up in southeast. In late November or early December, watch for the rising of Vega far to the northeast. From its appearance until Rigel sets in west-southwest, 11 stars of first magnitude or brighter are visible, along with the three planets.

Watch for These Events

 

Thurs. Nov. 12, about half an hour after sunset: Binoculars may show young crescent Moon very low in WSW, with Saturn 2°-3° to its lower left.

Fri. Nov. 13: Last morning Venus-Mars within 5°.

Fri. Nov. 22: Last morning Venus-Mars within 10°. First morning Venus-Spica within 10°.

Wed. Nov. 25 at dusk: Watch for Aldebaran rising 4° lower left of Full Moon in ENE. Binoculars will help you see the star in Moon’s glare throughout the night. Early Thanksgiving morning, the Moon passes narrowly north of Aldebaran, without covering it. From southern California this happens around 2:48 a.m. PST, when the star appears less than one-quarter of a moon’s width from Moon’s southern limb. From near the OR-CA border to SC, there will be a grazing occultation, as the star repeatedly disappears and reappears from behind mountains on the Moon’s S limb. From north of that path, Aldebaran is occulted by the Moon.

On Thanksgiving Nov. 26 in morning twilight, Moon is low in WNW, with Aldebaran just over a degree to its lower right.

Nov. 29 & 30, morning: Venus-Spica appear closest, 4.2° apart.

Fri. Dec. 4, morning: Jupiter 5° upper right of Moon.

Sat. Dec. 5, morning: Mars 5°-6° lower left of Moon.

Sun. Dec. 6, morning: Spica 5° lower right of Moon.

Mon. Dec. 7, morning: Spica midway between Venus and Mars, 10° from each. Spectacular close conjunction of crescent Moon and Venus in morning twilight. Continue observing after sunrise and witness a daytime occultation of Venus by the Moon. From Palm Springs, binoculars and telescopes show the leading sunlit edge of Moon covering Venus at 8:09 a.m. PST, and trailing dark edge of Moon (invisible in daylight) uncovering Venus at 9:59 a.m. Times vary with observer’s location.

After Dec. 7, the waning Moon can be followed for 2-3 additional mornings. On Thurs. Dec. 10, 40 minutes before sunup, try for the very thin old crescent, only 20-21 hours before New, very low in ESE. Binoculars will be helpful for spotting it, and possibly emerging Saturn, rising within 3° to Moon’s lower right.

Resources

Illustrations of events in this article appear in Sky Calendar. For a sample issue and how to subscribe, visit www.abramsplanetarium.org/skycalendar/

An activity, Modeling seasonal visibility of stars and visibility of the planets, to help students investigate visibility of bright planets and first magnitude stars, is available at the CSTA website. As stars and planets come and go in morning and evening skies and display beautiful pairings and groupings, students can model these changes and explain their observations with the aid of items provided: Two planet orbit charts, Mercury through Mars and Mercury through Saturn; a table of data for plotting planets on orbit charts (.docx file); and a table of data for plotting planets on orbit charts (.docx).

A Selection of Media for the Science Classroom

Take your classes on a field trip to a planetarium, or arrange for a portable planetarium to visit your school!

Stellarium: www.stellarium.org

Astronomy Picture of the Day: www.apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

NASA and JPL: www.nasa.govwww.spaceplace.nasa.govwww.jpl.gov/edu

Sky and Telescope magazine: www.skyandtelescope.com

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.

Robert D. Miller, who provided the twilight charts and the planet orbit charts, did graduate work in Planetarium Science and later astronomy and computer science at Michigan State University and remains active in research and public outreach in astronomy.

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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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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

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NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal Learn More…

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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

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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.

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Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.