Category: Sky Talk

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.


The Snow Moon

The various Full Moons throughout the year have a variety of popular names given to them, perhaps the best-known being the Harvest Moon which in times past helped farmers bring in their crops by providing needed illumination at night. Others are much less-obvious, but not so this month’s name!


What On Earth Are The “Quadrantids”?

This month offers an opportunity to see a relatively unknown major meteor shower that radiates from a place in the sky that no longer exists! This will occur on the night of January 3rd into the morning of January 4th. Although considered by some skywatchers as one of the year’s best right alongside that of the Perseids and Geminids, few have actually seen it as explained below.