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I hope you have been out walking in the evening this past week and observed the changing phase of our moon. The shadows of the maria may look like a rabbit or a face, depending on how imaginative you are. The illumination from the sun traveling to our eye here on Earth is truly awesome.

Taking the time to think about the physics or the biology of how we see it only seems to add to the mystique and adds a new dimension to observing.

I do hope that your children are signing up for those pre-AP and AP courses in middle and high school. There is no sense in taking lesser course work if a student is planning to attend college or university to continue their education. Getting AP courses in high school can earn college credits and it is a really good way to advance in knowledge. Think of AP courses as pumping iron for your brain and sign up now. You will not regret it!

You may be interested to learn that Christians determine what Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection by the phases of the moon, namely the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the spring equinox. Since the moon’s phases are not equal to the number of days in a month the date for Easter fluctuates between March and April.

As the moon is rising later each day, it will be visible during the day and it may surprise children to see the moon during daytime. Try it and see. Be careful to not look at the sun as you look for the moon, though.

For nighttime star gazing stand facing south and look well below the bright Dog Star, Sirius for the solitary stars of Columba, a rough L shape representing the dove sent out from the Ark by Noah. The odd trapezoidal shape below Orion’s knees is Lepus, the Hare. If your skies are dark and clear you may even be able to see some star clusters in the area if you use binoculars.

As an astronomy aid, binoculars are much easier to use than a telescope and far more practical. A decent pair can be had for less than $200. If you think you have to have a telescope, think again. Until you can find your way around the constellations with the unaided eye, a telescope is not necessary.

At nightfall, the Big Dipper will be about 2/3 of the way up in the northeast; by midnight it will be directly overhead in the north. Locate the handle and trace an imaginary line along the handle to the nearest bright star toward the east; this is known as Arcturus. Then spin on to Spica! If we have clear skies tonight you will be able to see the Moon, Luna, about a fist width’s distance from the lovely blue-white star, Spica (SPY-ka), the brightest star in Virgo.

Arcturus, a brightly burning gold colored star is located in the kite-shaped group of stars high in the north-northeast. It is at the base of the kite pattern. For those of you who enjoy visiting the Brownsville Public Library, look for a children’s astronomy book written by H.A. Rey of Curious George fame; they will enjoy it, and it will help you identify those star patterns we know as constellations.

I hope you have your eclipse glasses, and also that you plan to join me at the Brownsville Public Library at 6:30 on April 2 for an eclipse prep event. Until next week KLU

Carol Lutsinger of Brownsville is a NASA/JPL Solar System educator and ambassador and American Astronomical Society resource agent.

Carol Lutsinger