The North Star is Nearer

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All the paths of the stars are cut in half by the horizon, so all stars are up half the time and down half the time, regardless of their position. No star is circumpolar, no matter how close it is to the Celestial Pole. Above: A panoramic view of stars setting on the western horizon, as seen at the Equator in Kenya.

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On the left stars circle clockwise around the South Celestial Pole, rising on the left which is east when facing south and setting on the right which is west when facing south. On the right stars circle counterclockwise around the North Celestial Pole, rising on the right which is east when facing north and setting on the left which is west when facing north.

Everywhere, the stars set at right angles to the horizon the horizontal white line , as they all move parallel to the Celestial Equator, which crosses the Horizon at right angles at the Equator. The North Celestial Pole is 35 degrees above the North point on the horizon. The South Celestial Pole is 35 degrees below the South point on the horizon. The Celestial Equator rises at the East point at a 35 degree angle to the vertical, crosses the Meridian the North-South line through the Zenith 35 degrees south of the Zenith and sets at the West point, at a 35 degree angle to the vertical.

Half the Celestial Equator is above the Horizon and half is below it, so stars on the Celestial Equator are up half the time, and down half the time, just as at the Equator where all stars are up half the time, and down half the time. Stars following path 'A' are always up, even though they get higher and lower, because they are closer to the North Celestial Pole than it is to the Horizon.

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Notice how the atmosphere distorts the image when our star lies near the horizon. The specific dates depend on your latitude, however. In general, earliest sunrise occurs closer to the solstice the farther north you live. Friday, June 14 Grab your binoculars tonight and target the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo the Lion. Regulus B, which glows at 8th magnitude, shows up as a pinpoint nearly 3' from the 1st-magnitude primary.

The ringed planet rises around 10 p. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.

Polaris: The North Star

Sunday, June 16 Full Moon officially arrives at a. EDT tomorrow morning, but it looks completely illuminated all night. It appears low in the southeast as the Sun sets and climbs highest in the south around 1 a. The Full Moon resides among the background stars of southeastern Ophiuchus, though residents in western North America will see it slide into western Sagittarius by daybreak.

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You can expect a lot of people to ask what that bright object sitting next to the Moon is. Astronomers peer at the glowing shrouds of gas around distant galaxies. ALMA spots what may be the very first stages of planetary formation. History of Mars impacts leaves hope for ancient martian life.

Position in the Sky

Watch live as ISS astronauts return to Earth tonight. Curiosity detects methane spike on Mars again, but what does it mean? What did the Apollo astronauts leave behind?

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