Category: Sky Talk

Forgotten Space-Age Milestones

Every year, the anniversaries of two of the greatest events in all of human history come and go with little notice from most of the human race. We skywatchers should do everything we can to keep these alive and not allow them to fade forgotten into oblivion.

25Jul2015

A Moonless Meteor Shower!

This is “meteor month” — so named after the famed Perseid Meteor Shower that peaks each year during the second week of August. In addition to being among the richest of these annual celestial fireworks displays, it’s the best-known and most reliable of them all. The only uncertainty involved in viewing such events is if …

29Jun2015

Crescent Worlds Embracing!

About 30 minutes after sunset on the evening of Saturday, July 18th, the Moon and radiant Venus will present a truly awesome sight in the western sky.  The planet will appear to be touching the northern “horn” of the crescent Moon!  This spectacle will rivet the attention of even the most casual of skywatchers looking upward.  But there’s more to this celestial conjunction than just meets the eye.

25May2015

Jupiter Meets Venus!

The mythological celestial “King of the Gods” is about to embrace the “Goddess of Love.” Jupiter has dominated the eastern and southeastern sky for months now, as has Venus the western one. But the King has been slowly moving westward and drawing ever-closer to the Goddess, seemingly attracted by her gravational pull. Although gravity itself isn’t actually at play here, the force involved in their attraction to each could metaphorically be another form of it—what the famous visionary Buckminster Fuller was referring to when he said that “Love is metaphysical gravity.”

26Apr2015

Acquiring A Telescope

Poet Robert Frost felt that someone in every town owed it to the town to have a telescope. I would extend this to someone in every home should have one! And there are three basic ways to come about one of these magical instruments: making one (including the optics) from scratch, assembling a scope from available components, or purchasing a complete commercially-made instrument out of the box.

25Mar2015

Venus & The Pleiades

In last month’s installment, we highlighted a bright planet and a star cluster—Jupiter and the Beehive. This month we do it again—this time it’s Venus and the Pleiades. Both are so bright that they can be seen with the unaided eye anytime the sky is clear. And the view in binoculars when near each other is truly spectacular!

24Feb2015

Jupiter & The Beehive

For the next couple of months, the magnificent planet Jupiter visits the Beehive star cluster in Cancer. The former is obviously visible to the unaided eye under even the worst light pollution—and the cluster can be glimpsed naked-eye given a dark moonless night. In either case, both are a lovely sight in binoculars.

26Jan2015

Binocular Spectacular – Part II

In last month’s installment, we highlighted a striking “near miss” (or conjunction) of the two innermost planets of our Solar System—Venus and Mercury. This month, on the early evening of February 20th, an amazing triple conjunction will occur. And again, although it will be visible to the unaided eye as was last month’s event, the view in binoculars will be nothing short of spectacular!

06Jan2015

Binocular Spectacular – Part I

A fascinating celestial event sure to thrill sky-watchers will happen on the early evening of January 10th when the two innermost planets of our Solar System will have an apparent “near miss” in the sky! And while this can be witnessed with the unaided eye, it will be a superb sight in binoculars of all …

24Nov2014

An Evening Meteor Shower

Regular readers of this column know that whenever we’ve covered the various annual meteor showers, it seems that they always reach peak activity in the pre-dawn hours of the morning—and that relatively few “shooting stars” are seen during evening hours. (The reasons for this are discussed below.) But this month we have the very “considerate” …