What Type & Size Telescope Is Best?

Those new to the hobby of astronomy who are considering a telescope purchase typically wonder just which type and what size are the best choices.  This month we provide no-nonsense succinct guidelines to help answer these questions.


Jupiter Rules the Night

Appropriately for the king of the planets, giant Jupiter dominates the night sky beginning this month (and well into the spring as well).  And as January opens, it gets off with a bang sky-wise with a meteor shower.  Throw in the bright winter constellations like Orion now in full view and you have a wonderful …


This Year’s Best Meteor Shower!

The 2012 Geminid Meteor Shower promises to be the most spectacular of all this year’s major annual displays of “shooting stars.” Be sure to mark Thursday evening into early Friday morning, December 13th to 14th, on your calendar and plan to head outdoors if skies are clear.  The total absence of the Moon and an …


Observing The Aurora Borealis

With our “Daytime Star” now revving up for another sunspot maximum in 2013, displays of  the beautiful Aurora Borealis are becoming increasingly numerous. They are considered nature’s grandest light show and if you’ve never witnessed one, be prepared to be “wowed”!  And the best part is that no equipment is needed-just your eyes (with their …


The Amazing “Coathanger” Asterism

The night sky is full of wonders of many kinds.  One of the most common and surprising are the groups of stars known as “asterisms.” These are distinctive stellar patterns lying within a constellation or, in some cases, one made up of those from two or more adjoining constellations. Some are so unusual and artificial-looking …


The Moon’s Non-Rotation & Dark Side

Two of the enduring misperceptions of astronomy are that the Moon doesn’t rotate since we see the same side of it all the time, and that the back side of the Moon is its dark side. But neither one is true! A simple demonstration in the one case and a bit of logic in the …


An Ideal Meteor Shower!

There are several annual major displays of “shooting stars” that skywatchers look forward to with eager anticipation, and we have previewed them in this column a number of times over the years.  Unfortuntely, at least one or more are typically spoiled by clouds, bright Moonlight flooding the sky, or peaking during daylight hours or on …


So You Want to Become a Stargazer?

Amateur astronomy is one of fastest growing hobbies today, as more and more people attempt to escape the stress and problems of our troubled society by looking skyward.  It’s also one of the most exciting of all avocations, dealing as it does with the awesome wonders of the universe. And it’s one of the least …


The Transit of Venus!

A very rare celestial spectacle will occur on the late afternoon of Tuesday, June 5th, when the planet Venus will transit the face of the Sun—an event that can be seen even with the (protected) unaided eye!   These transits happen in pairs separated by 8 years (the last one having been in 2004) and then …


Annular Solar Eclipse

On the late afternoon of May 20th, most of the United States and Canada will have an opportunity to watch an eclipse of the Sun.  Nearly everywhere it will be a partial solar eclipse—but for those living in a narrow band across the southwestern part of this country, the event will be seen as an …