King of Meteor Showers

August is sometimes referred to as “meteor month”—so named after the famed Perseid Meteor Shower that peaks each year in mid-month. And while not normally the richest of these annual celestial fireworks displays, it’s certainly the best-known to the public and among the most reliable of them all. The only uncertainty involved in viewing this and other such events is if the presence of a bright Moon will interfere.


Moon Landing Day!

One of the most significant events in all of human history happened on this month. We are referring to the amazing landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon on July 20th, 1969, when human beings left their home on Planet Earth for the first time and journeyed to another world in space.


How Soon Can You See It?

The brightest object in the heavens after the Sun and Moon is the radiant planet Venus. Any time that it’s in the sky, there is no problem identifying it immediately. So locating it is not ever an issue. But skywatchers love the challenge of seeing just how soon after sunset it can be spotted with the unaided eye. This month offers an ideal opportunity to join in on the challenge.


The Amazing Big Dipper

This month is an ideal time to see the sky’s most famous star grouping—the Big Dipper, which rides high in the northern sky on May evenings. It’s not actually a constellation as many believe but rather an “asterism” or distinctive part of a constellation. In this case it’s Ursa Major, the Great Bear of the heavens. It’s also what many consider the most valuable grouping for finding your way around the night sky as we will see.


The Most Elusive Planet

Of the five bright naked-eye planets, four are unmistakable whenever they are in the sky. But the fifth one can be a bit of a challenge to see since it’s a “Sun-hugger” and never strays very far from our Daytime Star. But spotting it is well worth the effort!


What Are Equinoxs & Solstices?

A much-awaited event occurs every year on this month. It’s the arrival of Spring at the vernal (or spring) equinox. On that date the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north. And at that time there are equal amounts of day and night throughout the world (thus the term “equinox” from “equal night”). But there are actually two equinoxes. And as we will see, there are also two solstices—or the time when the Sun appears to stand still in the sky (thus the term “solstice” or “sun still”).


The Amazing Star And Planet Locator

If you already have a Scientifics Star and Planet Locator (if you don’t you must get one!), you possess a wonderful stargazing tool. But most users may be unaware of its many unique and valuable features in exploring the wonders of the night sky using nothing more than the unaided eye (no binoculars or telescope needed).


How Far Can You See?

Have you ever wondered just how far into space you can see on a clear night with your unaided eye? The answer will likely surprise you. The range of distances is truly amazing! But before turning to the night sky, we need to give a nod to the most important star in the heavens—our Daytime Star, the Sun! (We orbit it at an average distance of 93,000,000 miles.)


King of the Meteor Showers

The Geminids are what many skywatchers consider to be the best annual display of “shooting stars” superior even to the more famous Perseids in August. But this year the King will be somewhat compromised by “the Queen of Night”—the Moon! On the evening of December 13th into the morning of December 14th the sky will …


A “Horizon-Hugging” Total Lunar Eclipse

An eclipse of the Moon is total, in which case our satellite is completely immersed in the Earth’s dark inner shadow (the umbra)—or partial when only part of the Moon is covered. Total eclipses begin and end as partials, as the Moon enters and then leaves the umbra. Our second lunar eclipse this year happens during the early morning hours of November 8th. But seeing it is somewhat of a race across the country as the Moon gets lower and lower in the sky as the spectacle unfolds.