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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


Telescope “Power”

“How powerful is that telescope?” is a question that’s often asked by those considering purchasing one (or seeing various telescopes at an astronomy club star party). And it’s certainly understandable in that power has always been associated with these optical marvels. But in reality, a telescope actually has three kinds of power—two of which are …


Small Telescope Astronomy

Today’s mantra that “bigger is better” when it comes to TV screens, cars, houses, stadiums, etc. definitely doesn’t apply to telescopes for stargazing. Turns out that small scopes have some important advantages over larger ones and, surprisingly, in many cases can provide views of celestial wonders unmatched by the biggest of instruments!