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 …

01Jun2008

Sky Talk June 2008: Stars Twinkle – Planets Don’t

Most of us have heard the expression that “stars twinkle — planets don’t” but have no idea if it’s really true and, if so, why. With several of the brighter planets and stars currently visible in the evening sky, this is a perfect time to demonstrate its validity for yourself. And as a plus, those …

01May2008

Sky Talk May 2008: Mars Flies By the Beehive

For several evenings this month, skywatchers will have a chance to watch the planet Mars racing across the Beehive Star Cluster in the dim constellation Cancer, currently visible a third of the way up the western sky after evening twilight ends. And this is an event that can be enjoyed with the unaided eye, binoculars …

01Apr2008

Sky Talk April 2008: Moon Encounters Pleiades Star Cluster

Skywatchers will have another wonderful opportunity early this month to witness the on-going celestial ballet that occurs as worlds silently move through space above our heads at night. This event will be visible along the entire Eastern United States and up into eastern Canada as well. And while the spectacle can be enjoyed using the …

01Mar2008

Sky Talk March 2008: The Moon Illusion

One of the abiding mysteries of the night sky is that of the “Moon Illusion” — the fact that our satellite looks much bigger when rising or setting than it does when seen overhead. Everyone has experienced this but no one really knows why this happens or what causes it! We offer some tips for …

01Feb2008

Sky Talk February 2008: Total Eclipse of the Moon

The last in a series of three total lunar eclipses occurring within less than a year of each other that began last March (with a second one this past August) will occur on the evening of February 20th. After this month’s show, skywatchers will have to wait until December of 2010 to see another total …