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May 2011

Get your gaze on

Learn more about the night sky

Start the summer by learning more about the stars, planets and constellations. To begin, find a comfortable chaise, grab a pair of low-powered binoculars, get away from ambient light, and start looking up.

First, scan the night sky until you find the Big Dipper. At this time of year, the Big Dipper will be hanging by its handle and the Little Dipper will be standing on its handle.

To locate north, extend a line from the Big Dipper’s pointer stars, the two stars at the front of the cup, about 30 degrees to Polaris at the end of the Little Dipper’s handle.

Next, note the curvature of the Big Dipper’s handle. Follow the handle’s arc to brilliant Arcturus in the kite-shaped constellation Boötes, the Herdsman. Arcturus is often directly overhead.

Continuing farther along this arc and slightly to the west brings you to an equally brilliant star, Spica, in the constellation Virgo, the Virgin.

To learn more about the night sky, order the USPS Navigational Astronomy guide and subscribe to the weekly USPS Stargazer blog.

Keep your feet feeling and looking cool with flip flops from the USPS Ship's Store.

Mastering Marlinespike

Angler’s loop

Also called the perfection knot, the angler’s loop forms a strong, nonslip, fixed loop at any position along most types of line, including bungee and shock cord.

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