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
7:30 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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Western Slope Skies
9:39 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Western Slope Skies 9/27/13

Early fall nights can be crisp, but it’s rewarding to go out after dark on these clear, moonless evenings to see some stars and constellations in our Western Slope skies.   

Rising in the northeast just after dark, you will find a group of stars that looks like a “W” on its side.  These stars are part of the constellation Cassiopeia, which commemorates a queen in Greek mythology.  

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Western Slope Skies
8:15 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Western Slope Skies 9/13/13

The sun rises in the east each day in our western slope skies and appears to shine with constant brightness. However, we shouldn’t take the sun for granted, because the sun’s energy sustains most life on Earth.  And, in this age of widespread, complex technology, the sun can impact our daily lives. 

The sun, in fact, is not constant, and we need to pay attention to our active, local star.  

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Western Slope Skies
10:05 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Western Slope Skies 8/30/13

Just about any clear night provides an invitation to go outside and see what’s up. Some nights, however, might offer a special attraction: a meteor shower; a conjunction between the Moon and a bright star or planet; or even a lunar eclipse. If you are a beginner stargazer you can maximize your sky watching efforts by taking a few simple steps.

Start with a star chart, and/or a Planisphere or a star-charting app that runs on a smart phone, tablet, or PC.  These are valuable tools in learning the night sky, displaying any number of sky objects for any hour of the night.

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Western Slope Skies
10:16 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Western Slope Skies 8/16/13

As August began, all of the bright planets were visible in our western slope skies. Since all of our solar system planets orbit the sun, the visible planets change from night to night. 

As of today’s program, we have already lost Mercury from view for the rest of this month. It was visible in the early dawn for the first two weeks of the month. However, we still have Venus shining low on the evening horizon. Saturn will end the month just a little higher than Venus. Jupiter rises well after midnight, followed by Mars even later.

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Western Slope Skies
9:08 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Western Slope Skies 8/2/2013

The Perseid meteor shower sprinkles the night sky with shooting stars in August.

The meteors are bits of icy and rocky debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. As Earth flies through the comet’s path, some bits of comet dust slam into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour. They quickly vaporize, creating bright but brief streaks of light in the night sky.

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Western Slope Skies
8:53 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Western Slope Skies 7/19/13

This is the second in a series on Women in Astronomy. 

In the early 1900s, Henrietta Swan Leavitt discovered a characteristic of certain variable stars that is still used today to measure astronomical distance. 

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Western Slope Skies
1:22 pm
Sat July 6, 2013

Western Slope Skies 7/5/2013

While there are always objects of interest to see in the night sky throughout the year, the summer sky is unique in that it offers us a view into the very center of the Milky Way, our home galaxy.

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Western Slope Skies
8:15 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Western Slope Skies 6/21/13

This is the first in a series of Western Slope Skies episodes about Women in Astronomy.  We hope that, in some manner, these inspire our young female listeners to become involved in astronomy.

On June 16, 1963, the Russians launched Vostok 6.  The lone astronaut on board was Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.  She was in space for 48 orbits over three days.  In her single mission, she logged more time in space than all the American astronauts who had been in space to that date combined.

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Western Slope Skies
11:14 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Western Slope Skies 5/24/2013

This week, just after sunset, we can see an amazing grouping of  planets in the western sky.  From May 24 until May 29, Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury will fit within a 5 degree circle – less than half the width of your fist held at arm’s length!   On May 26 these planets will be within 2 and one half degrees of each other – only half the apparent distance between the pointer stars of the Big Dipper!    

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