Western Slope Skies

Black Canyon Astronomical Society

Western Slope Skies is produced by members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, who take a look at our “local” night sky. Hear it on the Friday morning local newscast (from 8-8:15 AM) and on Wednesday nights at 8 PM during Global Express.

Do you have a question about the night sky or other astronomical topics? Ask it in our comments section below!

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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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WESTERN SLOPE SKIES
7:00 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 8/1/14

The Tidal Dance of the Earth and the Moon

We learn in grade school that the Moon, our nearest neighbor in space, causes tides on the Earth’s oceans. It does so through its gravitational attraction to the Earth. But the gravitation interplay between Earth and Moon has other, subtler effects as well.

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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 May 9, 2014

Western Slope Skies - 5/9/14

Saturn at Opposition

Last month on the program we learned that only the five superior planets can be at opposition. The fast movement of our planet’s orbit brings us between those five planets and the sun every year. In April, Mars was at opposition. This month, on Saturday, May 10th, its Saturn’s turn to shine!

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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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