January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Sky-Watching Activities, December 2012 to Early January 2013

Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

by Robert C. Victor

Two difficult observations on Wednesday, December 12:

(1) Just over an hour before sunrise, try to see four planets simultaneously. It’s harder than it was two weeks earlier. Beginning with Venus, note Saturn 18° to its upper right, and Mercury just risen in ESE 6.5° to Venus’ lower left. When Mercury is 4° up, Jupiter is also 4° up, but in the opposite direction, WNW. If mountains don’t block your view, you might see all four of these planets at once. Note: Saturn-Venus-Mercury lie in a straight line. (2) Next, even more difficult, wait until about 30 minutes before sunrise, then extend the Mercury to Venus line 9° lower left of Mercury, and, using binoculars, there you may find a very thin crescent old Moon less than 3° above the horizon. From the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, the Moon is just 18.5 hours before New. (New Moon occurs on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 12:42 a.m. PST). 

Extremely young Moon in early dusk on Thursday, December 13:

This is even more challenging. Using binoculars, look about 25 minutes after sunset, very low, about 25° to 30° south of due west, only about 3° above the horizon. The sky will have to be exceedingly clear. The Moon will be only 9° from the Sun, and will appear as a very fine hairline crescent, less than a semicircle in extent. Near the Coachella Valley, from places where local mountains don’t block the view, the Moon’s age (time elapsed since New) will be only about 16 hours 20 minutes.

If you succeed in seeing these opposing crescents on consecutive days, the old Moon in morning twilight on Dec. 12 and the young Moon at dusk on Dec. 13, you will be in very rare company. Either sighting by itself would be noteworthy.

The Moon’s absence leaves the sky dark for a fine view of the Geminid meteor shower, at its best on the night of Dec. 13-14, from late evening until dawn.

The waning crescent will be easy on the morning of Dec. 11 and the waxing crescent will be easy on the evening of Dec. 14, if skies are clear.

Follow the Moon one hour after sunset December 14-25.

On Friday, Dec. 14, look about one hour after sunset to find the crescent Moon, 4 percent full, about 30 degrees south of west and some 9 degrees up. Note Mars 7° to Moon’s upper left.

On Sat. Dec. 15, one hour after sunset, the crescent Moon is higher and thicker, 10 percent full. Find Mars 11° below the Moon.

On Wed. Dec. 19, an hour after sunset, the Moon is in the southern sky, nearly half full. Approaching First Quarter phase, the Moon is nearly 90 degrees from the Sun.

On Mon. Dec. 24, find the waxing gibbous Moon in the eastern sky, 5° south of the Pleiades star cluster.

On Tues. Dec. 25, at sunset, the Moon is 20° up and about 20° north of east, with Jupiter about 1.3° above the Moon’s center. Can you spot Jupiter before sunset? If you received a pair of binoculars for a present, this would be a good time to try them out. By an hour after sunset, Jupiter will appear 1.6° above the Moon. They spread to about 3° apart as they pass just south of overhead about 10 p.m. About three hours before sunrise on Wed. Dec. 26, find Jupiter sinking into the WNW about 5° lower right of the Moon.

Follow the waning Moon one hour before sunrise Dec. 27-Jan. 10:

Th Dec 27  Moon setting in WNW, nearly Full.

Fr Dec 28   Moon LL of Twins, UR of Procyon.

Sa Dec 29  Moon left of Twins, above Procyon.

Tu Jan 01   Moon below Regulus.

We Jan 02  Moon left of Regulus.

Th Jan 03   From California, the Quadrantid meteor best just before morning twilight begins, about 1.5 hours before sunrise.

Sa Jan 05   Moon 3° right of Spica; note Saturn 16° LL of Spica.

Su Jan 06   Moon 7° right of Saturn and 11° LL of Spica.

Mo Jan 07  Moon 10° LL of Saturn.

Tu Jan 08   Moon 24° LL of Saturn and 8° above Antares, heart of the Scorpion.

We Jan 09  Crescent Moon low in SE, 11° LL of Antares and 12° UR of Venus.

Th Jan 10   Last crescent Moon (2%) very low in ESE, 3° left of Venus.

Fr Jan 11   New Moon, 11:44 a.m. PST.

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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 Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

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!

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!

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.



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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

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

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

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.