Category: Sky Talk

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.


A Tale of Two Meteor Showers

October hosts two displays of “shooting stars” each year—one hardly worth mentioning and the other definitely worth watching. The first to appear this month is largely unknown to skywatchers. The second one is eagerly looked forward to, especially given the typically clear skies and pleasant fall temperatures for being outdoors at night.


Fall Asterisms

Each of the four seasons of the year brings with it a characteristic geometric pattern in the sky. These “asterisms” as they are called often are composed of stars in two or more of the constellations (including our featured one this month). One exception—and perhaps the best-known of all asterisms— is the Big Dipper, which can actually be seen year-round. It’s part of Ursa Major, the great bear of the sky.


Celestial Event Spoilers

Skywatching is a delightful and relaxing pastime. But it can also be frustrating and disappointing. Eclipses, meteor showers, comets, conjunctions of planets, auroras, passes of the International Space Station, all suffer from two main sources.


Star Colors

Most people believe that all the stars at night look white. But this is not so. The sky is alive with color if you know where and how to look for it. And the month of July is an ideal time for viewing celestial hues with six of the brightest stars in the sky present.


A “Supermoon” Full Moon

Due to the Moon’s elliptical orbit, in its monthly journey around the Earth it is sometimes closer to us and at others farther than its average distance of 239,000 miles. At those times when it’s closest and it happens to coincides with the Full Moon, it’s referred to as a Supermoon. The first of three of these that will occur in 2022 happens this month.


A Total Eclipse of the Moon!

An eclipse of the Moon is either total, in which case our satellite is completely immersed in the Earth’s dark inner shadow or umbra—or it is partial, meaning that only part of the Moon is covered as it passes through the shadow. This month’s event is both total while the phases leading up to and following totality are partial. And the timing is ideal, occurring late on a Sunday evening into early Monday morning.


Stargazing With Small Telescopes

Last month we discussed the joys of beginning your stargazing adventures simply using binoculars. Here we move on to that of owning a telescope to expand your explorations. And it doesn’t have to be large or expensive—even the smallest glass can provide a lifetime of viewing pleasure! In fact, they have some definite advantages over large ones.


Stargazing With Binoculars

Mentioning stargazing typically brings to mind a telescope. And indeed, sooner or later anyone interested in viewing the wonders of the heavens must have one. (In next month’s issue we will discuss telescopes). But the best way to begin your exploration of the heavens is not with a telescope, but rather with a pair of binoculars.