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
11:52 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 7/18/14

The Evening Sky in Late July

The Sun sets late on these long summer days, and it’s not fully dark until almost 10 PM.  And, because of this week’s late-rising moon, the sky remains dark long after twilight, allowing us great views of the Milky Way and the stars of summer.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
12:50 pm
Fri July 4, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 7/4/14

Pluto a planet?  Not a planet?  Beloved Disney Dog?

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
12:43 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 6/20/14

June Solstice

With the arrival of warmer temperatures, perhaps you’ve been enjoying some outings to the mountains or a float trip on a river.  While there is no doubt that summer is in full swing here in western Colorado, it’s not until this coming Saturday that the Universe makes it official. 

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
10:08 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 6/6/14

Light Pollution

Those of us that live on the Western Slope are no stranger to spectacular scenery. The jagged peaks, chiseled canyons, and expansive plateaus of western Colorado are treasures that we all cherish. But one of our most spectacular natural wonders may also be one of our least appreciated: our incredibly dark and pristine night skies.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
12:51 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 5/23/14

Mercury in Evening Twilight
 

Have you ever seen the planet Mercury? When conditions are near optimal, Mercury is easy to see. However, optimal conditions are rare, and many casual observers search for Mercury without success. This is because of the planet’s proximity to the sun.  The safe time to view Mercury is after sunset or before sunrise, depending upon the Mercury's orbit.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 4/25/14

Navigating the Night Sky

The Big Dipper is a great starting point for learning the night sky. Located near the pole of the sky, it never completely sets or dips below the horizon—it’s visible in the night sky year-round from the Western Slope! 

The Big Dipper itself is not a constellation, but it resides in one called Ursa Major, the Great Bear, third largest of the 88 constellations. The name originates from the dipper-shaped pattern formed by the seven main stars in the constellation.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 4/11/14

April’s Total Lunar Eclipse

Late on the evening of April 14th and into the early morning hours of April 15th, skygazers throughout the America’s and much of the Pacific region will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. This eclipse will be the first of two for the year. By the time the sun, earth and moon line up it will have been 857 days or 28 months since we last saw our moon completely in the shadow of our planet.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 3/28/14

Mars At Opposition

Astronomers use a number of curious words to describe the planets in their orbits, for example, quadrature, conjunction, elongation, and ... opposition.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 3/14/14

This is a continuing series on Women in Astronomy.  Today, we meet Margaret Burbidge.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:30 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 3/3/14

Today we discuss two giant stars that are easily observed right now and relatively close in the sky.  Aldebaran is an orange giant star, while Betelgeuse is a red super giant.

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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
4:20 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 2/14/14

This is a continuing series on Women in Astronomy.  Today, we meet Vera Rubin.

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Western Slope Skies
10:42 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Western Slope Skies 1/31/14

When you look at the night sky with the naked eye, everything that you see is in our Milky Way Galaxy.

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Western Slope Skies
8:15 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Western Slope Skies 1/17/14

For this episode of Western Slope Skies from the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, we learn about the planet Jupiter, which can be seen shining bright in the night skies of January.

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Western Slope Skies
10:42 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Western Slope Skies 1/3/14

For the latest episode of Western Slope Skies from the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, we'll learn about the bright stars of winter. 

Gaze to the east at about 8 PM on a clear January evening and enjoy the bright and colorful stars of winter.  A star chart, planisphere, or smart-phone App may help you navigate. 

The centerpiece of our wintery celestial display is the constellation Orion, now well above the southeastern horizon. 

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Western Slope Skies
11:17 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Western Slope Skies 12/20/13

As the holidays approach, the days shorten, bringing with them our glorious Western Slope night skies.  Joining us to celebrate the season is a brilliant cluster of stars, called the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters. 

Rising on our eastern horizon, the Pleiades first appears as a cloud-like thumbprint.  As your eyes adapt to the darkness, you’ll be able to pick out point-like stars, as many as six or seven. 

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Western Slope Skies
8:15 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Western Slope Skies 12/6/13

Look low in southwest as the sky darkens in early December. That brilliant “evening star” is actually not a star, but the planet Venus. 

Venus is at its brightest now, in part because it’s relatively close by, only about 35 million miles from Earth. Venus is so very bright that it can cast shadows, and it’s sometimes confused with airplane landing lights, or even reported as a UFO. 

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Western Slope Skies
9:00 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Western Slope Skies 11/22/13

For this episode of Western Slope Skies, a look at the moons of Jupiter, and the two Galileos - the man and the machine.

In 1610, Galileo Galilei became the first person to observe another planet, Jupiter, and its 4 largest moons, Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, and Io.   For the next 380 years, most scientists believed that those moons were similar to our Moon, that is, rocky spheres without activity or atmosphere.   

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Western Slope Skies
12:00 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Western Slope Skies 11/8/13

Comet ISON has been in the news for more than a year now. Discovered in September 2012, the comet should now be visible with binoculars or a small telescope.

ISON is a ‘sun grazer’ comet, as it will pass only 700,000 miles from the sun on November 28th.  This distance is less than the sun’s diameter!

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Western Slope Skies
12:47 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Western Slope Skies 10/25/13

Did you know that the Big Dipper is NOT a constellation?  It’s actually an asterism - a pattern of stars in the sky, much like a pattern of clouds.  

While there are many asterisms that are commonly known, none of them are constellations.  Other fall and winter asterisms include the Little Dipper, the Winter Hexagon, and the Great Square of Pegasus.

The Big Dipper is part of the constellation, Ursa Major, the Great Bear.  What most people see as the handle of the Big Dipper is the tail of the bear, while the bowl of the dipper is part of the body of the bear. 

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Western Slope Skies
8:15 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Western Slope Skies 10/11/13

This is the third in a series on Women in Astronomy.  Today, we meet Caroline Herschel.

Caroline Herschel was born in Hanover, Germany in 1750.  Her early life was a conflict between her father, who wanted her to be educated in music and science, and her mother, who thought that household chores were the appropriate life for a woman.

In 1772, Caroline moved to England and joined her brother, William, who was already working in astronomy and music.  Over time, they gradually left music and became full-time astronomers.

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