Albireo is a beautiful double star in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. If you heard the previous edition of Western Slope Skies, you learned about the Summer Triangle, which includes Deneb, the tail of Cygnus. Albireo is the head of Cygnus and is dimmer than Deneb.
Many stars have Arabic names dating back hundreds of years. For example, Deneb means ‘tail.’ Because of the history involving several languages, the current name Albireo, while appearing to be Arabic, is actually meaningless.
As these early fall days grow shorter, our western slope skies are still dark at 6:00 AM. So, this is a great time to see a celestial spectacle in the morning without having to get up too early. From September 29 through October 7 the brilliant planet, Venus, often called the morning star, will be moving past Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo.
The Summer Triangle dominates the summer sky. It crosses the hazy band of the Milky Way, which is split into two by a large dust cloud near the star Deneb.
The points of the triangle are three of the brightest stars in the summer sky, and each is the brightest star in its own constellation. The brightest is Vega, in Lyra; second is Altair, in Aquila; and third is Deneb, in Cygnus. Even city-dwellers with glowing, light-polluted skies can find the Summer Triangle.
On clear August nights, the Milky Way extends brilliantly from our southern horizon, creating a beautiful vision of stars, reflected light, nebulae, gas and dust. As darkness falls, and you step outside, it first appears as a band of clouds reaching across the sky. These "clouds" are actually stars that cannot be distinguished from one another with the unaided eye. In the southern portion you will be able to pick out constellations like Sagittarius, the Archer, more commonly known as “the teapot”, and Scorpius, the scorpion, pinchers reaching upward, tail trailing.
During the wee morning hours from August 9th to the 14th, you may see tens of meteors per hour streaking across our Western Slope Skies. This is the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, one of the most reliable of about 20 meteor showers that occur during the year. Meteors, sometimes called “shooting stars”, are actually debris from comets or asteroids that have entered earth’s atmosphere at high speed. The Perseid Shower consists of icy and rocky debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, a 17 mile-wide comet that last passed near Earth in 1992.
On August 5th, the planet Mars will be invaded by an alien spacecraft – a robot probe from planet Earth! On Tuesday evening, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, also known as Curiosity, will arrive at Mars.
It’s Labor Day. As people celebrate the last weekend of summer, KVNF’s Julia Kumari Drapkin and the iSeeChange project takes a look back at how the timing of flowers this season has affected backyard gardens, backcountry ecology, and even people’s back pockets.
iSeeChange is produced by Julia Kumari Drapkin and brought to you by KVNF and Localore, a national public media initiative. If you like what you hear, you can like the iSeeChange facebook page and participate in the conversation.
iSeeChange producer, Julia Kumari Drapkin, speaks with with local old timers Dallas and June Harding and others. Having lived and worked the land in the area for decades, they give us their observations on change in the area over time.
Last week, the Delta County Health department reported three additional cases of West Nile Virus among residents. That brings the total number of confirmed and suspect human cases of the virus in the county to 20–most of which have resulted in uncomplicated fever. Most of the reported cases have been in the Delta and North Fork areas, and on Saturday, the town of Hotchkiss sprayed to kill adult mosquitoes. For KVNF and the iSeeChange project, Julia Kumari Drapkin takes a closer look at why mosquitoes and West Nile Virus are thriving in a DROUGHT year and whether community efforts to spray late in the season will pay off.
Produced by Julia Kumari Drapkin, the iSeeChange project at KVNF is part of Localore, a nationwide production of AIR designed to accelerate transformation and extend public service media to all Americans. KVNF was selected as one of only 10 Localore stations across the country—learn more at airmediaworks.org. Localore is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Wyncote Foundation, the John T. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Interactive storytelling partner Zeega co-produced TheAlmanac.org with iSeeChange.