26Apr2019

SkyTalk May | Astronomy Clubs & Astronomy Day

There’s an old adage that “A joy that’s shared is a joy doubled.”  Stargazers love to share the heavens with others—especially newcomers to the hobby.  To experience this for yourself, why not plan to attend an astronomy club meeting near you?  And this month is a perfect time since nearly all of these groups are …

29Mar2019

SkyTalk April | A Celestial Compass, Calendar & Clock

The sky’s best-known figure (with the possible exception of the constellation Orion) is the Big Dipper.  The Dipper itself is actually not a constellation but only part of one—Ursae Major, the Great Bear.  It’s an “asterism” or a distinctive pattern made up of parts of one or more constellations.  But it surely has to be …

01Mar2019

SkyTalk March | The Amazing Beehive Cluster

On March evenings, a very famous but subtle stellar commune sits right on the celestial meridian (the north-south line in the sky passing overhead) in the constellation Cancer. A fascinating sight whether using the unaided eye, binoculars, or wide-field telescopes, it’s a “must-see” target for skywatchers. To identify the Beehive Star Cluster and its host …

24Jan2019

SkyTalk February | Honoring Edmund Scientifics Telescopes

Few realize the role that Edmund Scientifics telescopes have played over the years in the growth of amateur astronomy. If you are among those who own one of these vintage instruments, you may be sitting on a wonderful window on the heavens for your personal observing pleasure—and valued collector’s item in many cases as well! …

02Jan2019

SkyTalk January | A Perfect Eclipse Of The Moon!

Be sure to mark your calendar for January 20th. A spectacular total lunar eclipse will be widely visible from all of North America later that evening (and somewhat into the hours after midnight). Five eclipses will occur in 2019—three solar and two lunar. But this is the only one of the five visible in the …

19Nov2018

The Best Meteor Shower of the Year

To just about everyone’s mind, the most famous meteor shower of all is the Perseids of August. Actually, however, the Geminids of December consistently offers more “shooting stars” than any other display—typically at least 100 per hour, and occasionally as many as 120 or two meteors per minute at its peak! But alas, apparently the …

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 …