16Oct2018

Celestial Geometry

A fascinating assortment of naked-eye geometric shapes is to be found among the constellations visible this month. And to have fun identifying them, there is no better guide than the wonderful Scientifics Star and Planet Locator. Next to binoculars and telescopes, many consider this the stargazer’s most useful tool. (It also makes a great inexpensive …

17Sep2018

Beginning of the Space Age

On October 4th, 1957, the U.S.S.R launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, to the shock and amazement of the entire world. This eventually led to the launching of thousands of other satellites pinnacled in the International Space Station, and—just 12 short years later—to the first landing of men on the Moon in 1969. ———————————————————————————————————— Along …

28Aug2018

Fiery Stars & Planets

This month offers a great opportunity to see two of the heaven’s best-known, brightest, and ruddiest naked-eye objects—one being a planet and the other a star—placed near each other in the sky. Mars and Antares will be found facing south and southwest, respectively, in the evening twilight. ———————————————————————————————————— Mars is slowly retreating from its awesome …

28Aug2018

Finally: A Perfect Perseid Meteor Shower!

One of the year’s best-known and most reliable annual displays of “shooting stars” is the famed Perseid Meteor Shower which peaks every August. But so often the presence of the Moon in the sky interferes with its visibility. But not so this time! ———————————————————————————————————— This year’s display will get underway around 11 p.m. local time …

02Jul2018

Mars Comes Close!

A lot is going on in the sky this month, including a beautifully-paired conjunction of radiant Venus and the crescent Moon low in the western twilight on the 15th, and the Moon hovering just above Jupiter on the 20th in the southwest at dusk. (That date is also “Moon Day”—the anniversary of the first landing …

16May2018

Lunar, Planetary & Stellar Showcase

Despite having the latest sunset, longest twilight, and shortest night of the year, the month of June still offers an opportunity to see the sky’s brightest objects appear as darkness slowly descends—the Moon, five planets, and three radiant summer stars! ———————————————————————————————————— Because it takes so long for it to get dark this month, many sky …

27Apr2018

Telescope “Power”

“How powerful is that telescope?” is a question that’s often asked by those considering purchasing one (or seeing various telescopes at an astronomy club star party). And it’s certainly understandable in that power has always been associated with these optical marvels. But in reality, a telescope actually has three kinds of power—two of which are …

22Mar2018

Small Telescope Astronomy

Today’s mantra that “bigger is better” when it comes to TV screens, cars, houses, stadiums, etc. definitely doesn’t apply to telescopes for stargazing. Turns out that small scopes have some important advantages over larger ones and, surprisingly, in many cases can provide views of celestial wonders unmatched by the biggest of instruments!

16Feb2018

Becoming A Stargazer

If you step out doors on a clear night and look up as the sky, technically you are already a stargazer! But stargazing as an exciting hobby entails a lot more than just a casual glance skyward. It’s a never-ending cosmic adventure that you can embark on simply by following the three basic steps discussed …

21Nov2017

December’s Delightful Shooting Stars

SCIENTIFICS – SKY TALK – DECEMBER, 2017 Were I to pick my favorite of the year’s several good annual meteor showers, it wouldn’t be the famed Perseids of August (seemingly everyone’s favorite) but rather the Geminids of December. It consistently offers more “shooting stars” than any other display—typically at least 100 per hour, and occasionally …