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 …

01Jan2008

Sky Talk January 2008: The Winter Milky Way

Mention of the Milky Way conjures up images of Summer nights, at which time the great billowy starclouds of our home Galaxy provide an awesome sight as they pass through the rich constellations of Cygnus, Aquila, Scutum, Scorpius and, especially, Sagittarius which lies in the direction of the Galaxy’s center. But there is a Winter …

01Dec2007

Sky Talk December 2007: The Geminid Meteor Shower

December brings skywatchers one of the year’s two richest displays of “shooting stars” — the Geminids. (No, the other isn’t the famed Perseids in August, as told below!). They’re named for the constellation Gemini from which they appear to radiate or “shoot” across the sky. And unlike most other meteor displays whose host constellations typically …

01Nov2007

Sky Talk November 2007: Planetary Conclave at Dawn

Stargazers have complained much over the past month or so about the absence of bright observable planets in the evening sky. Jupiter is setting in the twilight glow after sunset, its banded disk and four bright satellites now largely lost in atmospheric turbulence. And Mars doesn’t rise until late evening, still appearing fairly small in …

01Oct2007

Sky Talk October 2007: The Orionid Meteor Shower

The annual Orionid Meteor Shower will provide another fine display of celestial fireworks for skywatchers during the early morning hours of October 21st. The window of opportunity for having a dark sky in which to see these “shooting stars” occurs soon after the 9-day-old Moon goes down around 1:30 a.m. EDT and before the Sun …

01Sep2007

Sky Talk September 2007: Moon Occults Pleiades Star Cluster – Twice!

A pair of spectacular encounters of our Moon with the bright naked-eye Pleiades Star Cluster (more popularly known as the “Seven Sisters”) occurs this month and repeats again next month (which is being covered here, as the circumstances for observing both events are very similar — and since the October installment will be highlighting the …

01Aug2007

Sky Talk August 2007: Total Eclipse of the Moon & Perseid Meteor Shower

This year’s second total eclipse of the Moon occurs on August 28th, giving many observers clouded out for the March event another chance to see one of nature’s grandest spectacles. This time, however, moongazers will have to be either early risers — or stay up quite late — all depending on your time zone. And …

01Jul2007

Sky Talk July 2007: Spectacular Conjunction of Venus & Saturn

After drawing ever-closer to each other in the evening sky over the past couple of months, the radiant planet Venus and the ringed planet Saturn finally meet in a stunning conjunction as July opens. Their cosmic embrace offers a visual feast for observers not to be missed — whether using the unaided eye, binoculars or …

01Jun2007

Sky Talk June 2007: Greatest Elongations of Mercury & Venus

Greatest elongations of the two inner planets Mercury and Venus are the points in their orbits where they appear at their maximum angular separations from the Sun — either to the east of it when in the evening sky or to the west of it in the morning sky. June offers a superb opportunity to …