01Apr2009

Sky Talk April 2009: Meeting of the Crescent Worlds

On the morning of April 22nd, the crescent Moon will sideswipe the crescent planet Venus in a spectacular pre-dawn show for portions of North America. Seen from the western two-thirds of the country, our lovely satellite will actually cover (or occult) the radiant planet, while those in the East will see a striking “near miss.” …

01Mar2009

Sky Talk March 2009: Saturn Without Rings!

The magnificent ringed-planet Saturn is now well placed for viewing in the southeastern sky on March evenings. Unfortunately, for many who will be looking at it for the first time during this very active International Year of Astronomy, it will be a disappointment in small telescopes-for it will be seen nearly ringless! Twice during each …

01Feb2009

Sky Talk February 2009: Dawn Spectacles

A striking encounter of Jupiter and Mars, followed by another of the crescent Moon with those two planets plus Mercury all lined up in a row, will occur just before dawn above the southeastern horizon this month. Despite the hour and Winter chill, it will be well worth rising early and taking a look at …

01Jan2009

Sky Talk January 2009: A Celestial Snowshower

One of the richest yet most ignored annual displays of “shooting stars” starts off the new year with a bang celestially. It’s the Quadrantid Meteor Shower, which promises to put on a fine show this year during the early morning hours of January 3rd. Seen during its peak activity under very dark-sky conditions away from …

01Dec2008

Sky Talk December 2008: A Spectacular Triple Conjunction

Visible in the western sky after sunset on the first evening of December will be a stunning meeting of the three brightest objects in the heavens after the Sun itself—the planets Venus and Jupiter, and the crescent Moon. If it’s clear on that date, you simply must not miss out on seeing this amazing celestial …

01Nov2008

Sky Talk November 2008: Three Seasonal Asterisms at Once!

Each of the four seasons has an asterism or distinctive group of stars associated with it that can be used to find the constellations visible at their respective times of the year. Late evenings in November offer stargazers the opportunity of viewing three of them simultaneously—those of the Summer, Fall and Winter sky. Many skywatchers …

01Oct2008

Sky Talk October 2008: Making the Photon Connection

This month we touch on an amazing aspect of stargazing largely unknown to most of those who turn their eyes skyward on clear nights. It’s called the “Photon Connection” and once you make it you’ll never look at celestial objects the same way again — guaranteed! Seeing the wonders of the heavens firsthand is certainly …

01Sep2008

Sky Talk September 2008: Moon Occults Pleiades Star Cluster – Once Again!

For an unprecedented fourth time this year, the Moon will occult the bright naked-eye Pleiades Star Cluster, more popularly known as the “Seven Sisters.” Depending upon your actual geographic location, this will be seen as either a spectacular covering-and-then-uncovering of the cluster’s stars — or as a fascinating “close encounter” with them. In either case …

01Aug2008

Sky Talk August 2008: Meteor Month

For many stargazers, this is “meteor month” — so named after the famed Perseid Meteor Shower that peaks each year during the second week of August. And while not the richest of these annual celestial fireworks displays, it’s certainly the best-known and among the most reliable of them all. The only uncertainty involved in viewing …

01Jul2008

Sky Talk July 2008: In Praise of the 60mm Refractor

The ubiquitous 60mm (2.4-inch aperture) refractor is without question the most common telescope in the world. Literally millions of these glasses have been sold over the years. They can make a great choice for beginning stargazers and an ideal, highly-portable second instrument for experienced observers owning much larger scopes. And while their performance can sometimes …