What Are Equinoxs & Solstices?

A much-awaited event occurs every year on this month. It’s the arrival of Spring at the vernal (or spring) equinox. On that date the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north. And at that time there are equal amounts of day and night throughout the world (thus the term “equinox” from “equal night”). But there are actually two equinoxes. And as we will see, there are also two solstices—or the time when the Sun appears to stand still in the sky (thus the term “solstice” or “sun still”).


The Amazing Star And Planet Locator

If you already have a Scientifics Star and Planet Locator (if you don’t you must get one!), you possess a wonderful stargazing tool. But most users may be unaware of its many unique and valuable features in exploring the wonders of the night sky using nothing more than the unaided eye (no binoculars or telescope needed).


How Far Can You See?

Have you ever wondered just how far into space you can see on a clear night with your unaided eye? The answer will likely surprise you. The range of distances is truly amazing! But before turning to the night sky, we need to give a nod to the most important star in the heavens—our Daytime Star, the Sun! (We orbit it at an average distance of 93,000,000 miles.)


King of the Meteor Showers

The Geminids are what many skywatchers consider to be the best annual display of “shooting stars” superior even to the more famous Perseids in August. But this year the King will be somewhat compromised by “the Queen of Night”—the Moon! On the evening of December 13th into the morning of December 14th the sky will …


A “Horizon-Hugging” Total Lunar Eclipse

An eclipse of the Moon is total, in which case our satellite is completely immersed in the Earth’s dark inner shadow (the umbra)—or partial when only part of the Moon is covered. Total eclipses begin and end as partials, as the Moon enters and then leaves the umbra. Our second lunar eclipse this year happens during the early morning hours of November 8th. But seeing it is somewhat of a race across the country as the Moon gets lower and lower in the sky as the spectacle unfolds.


A Tale of Two Meteor Showers

October hosts two displays of “shooting stars” each year—one hardly worth mentioning and the other definitely worth watching. The first to appear this month is largely unknown to skywatchers. The second one is eagerly looked forward to, especially given the typically clear skies and pleasant fall temperatures for being outdoors at night.


Fall Asterisms

Each of the four seasons of the year brings with it a characteristic geometric pattern in the sky. These “asterisms” as they are called often are composed of stars in two or more of the constellations (including our featured one this month). One exception—and perhaps the best-known of all asterisms— is the Big Dipper, which can actually be seen year-round. It’s part of Ursa Major, the great bear of the sky.


Celestial Event Spoilers

Skywatching is a delightful and relaxing pastime. But it can also be frustrating and disappointing. Eclipses, meteor showers, comets, conjunctions of planets, auroras, passes of the International Space Station, all suffer from two main sources.


Star Colors

Most people believe that all the stars at night look white. But this is not so. The sky is alive with color if you know where and how to look for it. And the month of July is an ideal time for viewing celestial hues with six of the brightest stars in the sky present.


A “Supermoon” Full Moon

Due to the Moon’s elliptical orbit, in its monthly journey around the Earth it is sometimes closer to us and at others farther than its average distance of 239,000 miles. At those times when it’s closest and it happens to coincides with the Full Moon, it’s referred to as a Supermoon. The first of three of these that will occur in 2022 happens this month.