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 …

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 …