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.
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.
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!
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.
The McKenna Brothers are two of Paonia's illustrious, possibly infamous, hometown icons. Younger brother Dennis is an ethnobotanist. His older brother Terence, who died in 2000, was known for his books on psychedelics and the nature of consciousness, with such titles as "True Hallucinations and The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess and the End of History."
For this week’s iSeeChange report, we explore concerns about ditch lining in the area, and whether these manmade environmental changes (much like the ditches themselves) may alter their surroundings.
Last week on the Almanac, Stewart Mesa resident noticed fewer numbers of wasps around her house. She says usually by this time of the summer, her front porch is practically overrun with wasps. But this year they seem to have disappeared.
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.