Black Canyon Astronomical Society

The BCAS offers programs and presentations on all facets of astronomy to public organizations, schools (elementary through college) and home-school groups.  We have many experienced observers and astrophotographers and can assist newcomers with selection, operation and maintenance of all varieties of optical equipment for astronomical use. 

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Western Slope Skies: Women in Astronomy

Women in Astronomy – Sydney Wolff

This is a continuing series on Women in Astronomy.  Today we meet Sidney Wolff.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri April 24, 2015

Western Slope Skies: Seeing Double in Perseus

You may know the Greek myth of Perseus, a young hero who slew the petrifying Medusa and the sea monster Cetus, in order to rescue the beautiful Andromeda from her cruel mother Cassiopeia.  The ancient Greeks saw fit to immortalize the story in the sky, by tracing constellations resembling these characters. We recognize these constellations today-- in particular, Andromeda with its legendary naked-eye galaxy M31, our closest spiral galactic neighbor.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Western Slope Skies - Star Light, Planet Bright

The Pleiades
Credit Hubble Space Telescope - NASA

The winter evening sky was dominated by two exceptionally bright “stars” that are actually planets — resplendent Venus, nearest of planetary neighbors, in the west, and regal Jupiter, largest of the planets, in the east. As we enter spring, Venus and Jupiter remain celestial highlights, and will treat us to a special double-feature in mid-April — each planet will be very close to a prominent open star cluster.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Western Slope Skies - Lunar Eclipse at Dawn

If you rise early on Saturday, April 4 you will be treated to an unusual event:  the third of four total lunar eclipses occurring within a period of just two years.  This has been called a lunar eclipse tetrad. 

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Western Slope Skies - Ursa Major

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near Montrose, CO, is an excellent place to observe night skies free from light pollution. When it comes to constellations, one of the most famous is Ursa Major, meaning “The Big Bear,” which includes “The Big Dipper.”

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
10:44 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Western Slope Skies - Solar System Exploration in 2015

2015 is a banner year for solar system exploration.  Although the European Venus Express Mission and NASA’s Messenger Mission to Mercury are ending, other missions will be gearing up in 2015.  NASA’s New Horizons probe will fly by Pluto in July, and in March, another NASA probe, called Dawn, will enter orbit around Ceres, the l

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Western Slope Skies - Venus Meets Mars and the Moon

Venus, Mars, and a thin crescent Moon will create a stunning sight in our early evening sky on February 20.  If skies are clear, find an open spot with an unobstructed horizon and look to the west between 6:15 and 7:00 p.m.   At first you may see brilliant Venus next to a thin, crescent Moon.  As twilight fades, fainter Mars will appear between Venus and the Moon.  Use binoculars for a truly amazing view!        

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Western Slope Skies - The Dance of the Galilean Moons

As twilight ends this winter, look to the east. You may see a very bright “star” that does not twinkle. This is Jupiter, the largest planet of the Solar System, eleven times the diameter of the Earth.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Western Slope Skies - The Color of Stars

For astronomers, it’s not all black and white…

At first glance, our night skies can appear as a dark canvas illuminated with points of mono-hued light.  But, as your eyes adapt, and on closer inspection, one can pick out stars with colors that are blue, white, gold, and reddish orange.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Western Slope Skies - Brightness of the Moon

The Moon is very bright during the first week of January, and it’s tempting to go for a snow shoe trek or ski tour by moonlight.  But two weeks ago, the moon was hardly visible at all.  There is one main factor that determines the visibility and brightness of the moon:  lunar phase. But, varying Earth-Moon distance also plays a role.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Western Slope Skies - Women In Astronomy

This is an ongoing series on Women in Astronomy.  Today, we meet three modern women in astronomy, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Andrea Ghez, and Carolyn Porco.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Western Slope Skies - December Solstice

The December solstice is coming!  At 4:03 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on December 21st, the Sun reaches its most distant point south in 2014, as viewed from Earth.  This defines the December solstice, which is the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. 

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 11/21/14

The Stars of Autumn

With fewer hours of sunlight during autumn the nights grow longer and there is a distinct chill in the air after the sun sets. You may notice the sky appears darker and the stars just a little clearer. A star chart or an astronomy app for a phone or tablet will guide you to the fall constellations and many of the stars visible in our skies.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 11/7/14

November’s Meteor Shower

The November Leonid meteor shower has produced some of the greatest meteor storms in history.     

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 10/24/14

The Milky Way
Air Dates: October 24 & 29, 2014

On these late October evenings, you may see a hazy band of light stretching from the southwestern horizon and crossing overhead to the northeast.  This is the Milky Way, an object of great wonder throughout human existence.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 10/10/14

October 23 Solar Eclipse

On October 8 we were treated to a total eclipse of the moon, and on October 23 North American sky-watchers can experience a partial solar eclipse. 

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 9/26/14

Pre-Dawn Lunar Eclipse

The second total lunar eclipse of 2014 will occur in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, October 8th. Nearly the entire eclipse will be visible from Western Colorado.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 9/12/14

Binary Stars

Next time you see the Big Dipper out of the corner of your eye, take a look at the star in the middle of the handle. If you have decent eyesight, you may see not one, but two stars: a brighter star known as Mizar, and a fainter star called Alcor. 

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 8/29/14

Neptune

"BORING!" said the 5-year-old of the little blue dot appearing through the telescope…

Perhaps at first glance, but considering that Neptune, the 8th planet,  is 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth, it’s actually an amazing sight. At approximately 2.8 billion miles away, it cannot be observed with the un-aided eye.  Seeing the disk and color requires a moderately sized telescope, and a keen-eyed astronomy buff.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 8/15/14

Planetary Conjunctions

Late August will be a great time for planet watching, in the morning and the evening. If you are up early on Monday, August 18, you will be rewarded by a spectacular pre-dawn sight. 

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