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A Quick Post

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve missed being here. Just wanted to wave my hand and say Hi. My Dad had been ill, then passed away last month. It’s been a tumultuous time, emotionally as well as the necessary stress of managing his estate. My son cracked up one of the cars the day after my Dad passed away, so there was the matter of getting that fixed. And other things as well.

I’ll be back soon, better and stronger. I got a post on Facebook today: Life is not the way it is supposed to be. It is the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. ~~Virginia Satir

Kiss Me Quick 日本語: ハナキリン Camera Details: Camer...

Kiss Me Quick 日本語: ハナキリン Camera Details: Camera: PENTAX K10D Lens: SIGMA 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC MACRO (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Orion and Neighbours

Orion and Neighbours (Photo credit: herbraab)

I’m a little pressed for time today, so this will be more fast and dirty than my usual posts.

In the evening of the 14th, check out Jupiter and the Moon hanging together in the west. The Moon will be a waxing crescent, quite thin, with Jupiter to its right. That bright red star below them is Aldebaran, in the constellation Taurus. Left of the Moon is another red star, Betelgeuse, in the constellation Orion. Below Betelgeuse is Orion’s belt, with the bright white star Rigel below. Orion is a winter constellation, soon to be gone from view as it sets closer and closer to sunset. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, follows Orion into oblivion until autumn.

On April 17th, the Moon will have reached first quarter, quite high in the sky. The yellow star below the Moon on this night is Procyon, in Canis Minor.

Looking north-northwest, the W of Cassiopeia is on its side. The Big Dipper is upside down, dumping its contents.

In the east-northerstern sky, Corona Borealis is a backwards C. That bright yellow star above and to the right in the east halfway up the sky is Arcturus in the constellation Bootes (pronounced bow-OH-tes). Saturn has just risen in the east-southeast if you have an unobstructed view to see it. If you can’t, just wait an hour or two. It will be here all night, like a bad comedian.

ABOVE ALL – ENJOY!     Comments always welcome.

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

English: Pleiades Star Cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DUSK     The Moon! Have you missed it? It will return on Thursday – but you need a good view to the west. Look low on the horizon an hour after sunset – visible as a very thin crescent, easier to see on successive nights. More will be illuminated, visible earlier and earlier as the week progresses. By Saturday the 13th, it will be halfway up the western sky an hour after sunset (8:30 pm).  On Friday, look for the Pleiades above and a little to the right of the Moon. On Saturday, they will be to the lower right. Also on Saturday, that bright object above the Moon is – JUPITER! You have until about midnight to see it. VENUS is still invisible to us, hiding on the far side of the Sun. M ARS is lost in the Sun’s light this month and for several more.  Comet PanSTARRS is higher after dusk in April. Click here for the most current information.

ALL NIGHT     As mentioned in last week’s post, you have all night to watch SATURN (if you so desire). As I mentioned before click here for the current positions of its moons.

DAWN     No Moon here to interfere with your dark sky. The red giant Antares glows prominently in the southwest about an hour before sunrise (about 5:30). To the west-southwest, there is Saturn, still quite a way from setting after hanging out all night. For telescope users, NEPTUNE is very low in the constellation Aquarius, and PLUTO is viewable just before morning twilight, but of course you must know exactly where to look. It will be easier to see once it appears in the evening sky in a few months. URANUS appears too close to the Sun to be visible. MERCURY is barely visible, but not with the naked eye.

Have I missed something? What have you seen? Questions? Post in Comments section below.

Night Sky This Week

Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois)....

Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois). Français : Pleine Lune vue de la Terre en Belgique à Hamois. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


We should be looking forward to warmer, although shorter, nights. How has spring been for you? For us here in the northeast, spring is nowhere to be seen weatherwise. Birds are moving in, though – robins, red-headed woodpeckers, wrens – joining the sparrows, cardinals, and titmice that overwinter. Simply anticipating the warm weather improves my mood.


DUSK     Jupiter begins April about halfway up the sky in the west at dusk, in a good position for viewing. Take advantage of it now, as it will be harder to see later in the month.  Saturn rises in the east-southeast on April 1st. Venus is barely visible after sunset in the west. To catch a glimpse of Mercury, you need a good view of the eastern horizon, as it is very close to the Sun, rising a few minutes before the Sun. Comet PanSTARRS will be higher in the sky at dusk, but farther from the Sun. That means that while it’s better positioned, it won’t be as bright. Mars is on the other side of the Sun from us, and will not be visible for several months.


ALL NIGHT     Saturn is bright in the constellation Libra, rising near sunset. Throughout the month, it will be rising later and later. It is very bright all month, no matter when it rises. It’s brightness is due to the fact that its disk is fully illuminated. Spectacular viewing of its rings and surface with even modest binoculars or telescopes. It is never all that high in the sky, though. To see the positions of Saturn’s moons at any time, go here.


DAWN     Mercury rises just a short time before the Sun. While it is visible with binoculars, you won’t likely be able to see it with the naked eye.


MOON     In early April, the Moon is waning, rising later each night. At this time of year, you may notice that it is lower in the sky than during winter.

What have you seen in the night sky lately that you’d like to share? Comment below:


The Night Sky March 24 – 31

The Sky at Night

The Sky at Night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My favorite Saturday morning task is writing this blog entry. Have any of you been able to catch Comet PanSTARRS in the West? Because of a mountain west of my house I am missing out, and am hoping some of you with a good western view have been luckier.

While discussing current events in the night sky, did you hear about the meteor visible from the northeastern US and Canada yesterday (March 22) evening around 7:50? It was particularly bright, streaked from East to West from what I understand. Of course I’m kicking myself for missing it!

DUSK    The Moon is just past full, and rises just after sunset. Look for Saturn to the lower left on the 28th and above the Moon on the 29th. Jupiter is halfway up in the western sky, the brightest object there at this time.

NIGHT     Planet Saturn is in Libra, rising less than an hour after twilight. Look for it in the east then. It is at its highest point after midnight in the southern sky. The rings are still at their best position for viewing (meaning “open” rather than “edge-on”).  Even a low-powered telescope or binoculars will be a spectacular sight.

DAWN     With a clear view of the eastern sky, Mercury is visible before sunrise. Because it’s still close to the Sun (having just emerged from the other side), a telescope or binocs might be necessary in order to catch it before the sky brightens. Venus is still on the other side of the Sun (in superior conjunction) so not visible. It will become a “morning star” as it comes around from behind the Sun, but not yet.

This Week’s Night Sky


Jupiter (Photo credit: jpstanley)

DUSK     Comet PanSTARRS should be most visible this week. You must have a good view of the Western horizon, as it is very low after sunset. It is not all that bright, so wait until the sky is dark enough after sunset. Look just left to the very thin crescent Moon on 12th. On the 13th it will be well below the Moon. If you have binoculars, the comet will be more spectacular. Remember the tail always streams away from the Sun.

                   While you’re looking at Comet PanSTARRS, Mars is in the neighborhood, but you will need binocs or a telescope, as it is just about 3 degrees above the horizon only a 1/2 hour after sunset. The sky will still have some light to be visible to the naked eye.

 EVENING and NIGHT     Jupiter makes an appearance very close to the crescent Moon in the constellation Taurus on the 17th. For an exciting view, use binocs or a telescope to see Jupiter’s rings and four Gallilean moons. Their arrangement changes daily as they orbit the big planet.

LATE NIGHT Saturn is highest in the sky (remember planets are in the Zodiac, so look to the south) after midnight.

DAWN Mercury is now a morning “star,” visible only through binocs or telescope. Venus is not visible at all this month., as it is on the other side of the Sun from us. 

What have you observed? Leave your comments and questions in the comment box below.                                                         

SPRING BEGINS (Vernal Equinox)     on the 20th at 7:02 am in the Northern Hemisphere. Woohoo!!!


English: A fragment from an engraving reproduc...

English: A fragment from an engraving reproduced in “The Complete Encyclopedia of Illustration”, by J. G. Heck, Gramercy Books, NY, 1979. All material in this book is entirely copyright-free, having origins prior to 1851. Citation on cover: “A treasure trove of almost 12,000 illustrations, copyright-free and clearly reproducible.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found this little book, How To Make Books,  while researching various forms of chapbooks on YouTube.  A quirky, funkily-illustrated book showing you several ways to produce your own books, greeting cards, scrap books, poetry collection – you name it. Anything you might want to publish by hand can be found here.

I bought this to learn about creating my own poetry books – otherwise known as chapbooks – for publication for fun. I especially found Chapter 1 a treasure trove, how to make “Instant Books.”  And just as a good creative book should, it inspired me to think of other ideas. In this case – BROCHURES for my violin teaching biz.

There are also some interesting future project ideas: journals,  accordians, pamphlets, and books with a variety of bindings: stab-stitched and long-stitched, for example.

If you love printed material, you’ll find How To Make Books fascinating.

Disclaimer – I have no stake in or compensation from this book or any I review.

A county route shield for a Morris County, New...

A county route shield for a Morris County, New Jersey road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spider Web” is a thriller about a drug epidemic set in Morris County, NJ, told from the perspective of a police detective and a fashion model.  So far, I’ve read only four chapters, but it is a gripping novel. I like those kinds of thrillers that I put down only when more urgent matters get in the way. You know, the kind that keep you up nights, reading.

I’ve read a previous novel by R.O. Palmer, called “Picasso Prince.” Also a thriller, it takes place on a cruise ship carrying an art collection worth millions of dollars. There is an unexpectetd plot twist near the end. Highly recommended!



Saturday (Photo credit: Brother O’Mara)

I can now consider myself a Weekend Novelist. There’s a book by that name (yes, it’s on my shelf).  This first draft of this manuscript was completed during NaNoWriMo 2010. I did cross the finish line with 50,000 words, but that’s as far as it went –  until last month.

One of my 2013 goals is to work regularly on “perfecting” my novel. The best solution for me now that I no longer teach on Saturdays, is to do something to move my novel along. I will never learn the craft by hoping, will I?

I’ve been digging into, studying, absorbing, making notes on a book recommended by The Writer Magazine recently, How To Write a Damn Good Thriller. I mentioned it here before.

Lest you think all I’m doing is reading about how to write instead of actually writing, I need the advice, for I truly don’t know what I’m doing. I know you need a first draft to work from, and I have done that at least.

At about 3/4 through the book; this weekend’s intention is to do more – um – reading.

And that’s the status of  my two-doughnut manuscript.

Till next week……

Spreading Too Thin

English: Moleskine notebook and diaries. Белар...

English: Moleskine notebook and diaries. Беларуская: Нататнік і штодзёньнікі Moleskine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s pretty obvious that I have been falling by the wayside on the 100 Novels Project. With so much going on right now – growing both my word business and violin-teaching business, and being my father’s caregiver, is eating a large chunk of time and brain-processing space.

So I decided the 100 Novels has to go for now. There are so many books waiting for me to read in the house and on the list in my Moleskine book journal, that I just get frustrated at not being able to do it all. *Sigh of relief*

Everywhere I turn for caregiving advice tells me the same thing – to care for myself just as much. So no more high ideals for me, just living each day. Housekeeping, bookkeeping, business-building, reading, caregiving, mothering…too many “ing’s.”

That’s better.