26Sep2021

The Radiant Evening “Star”

Although the ancient skywatchers knew the difference between stars (which are fixed relative to each other) and planets (which wander around the sky), they dubbed the planet Venus the “Evening Star” when seen after sunset (and the “Morning Star” seen before sunrise). As the third brightest object in the heavens after the Sun and Moon, it’s easy to see why they would.

30Aug2021

The Lovely Harvest Moon

Harvest Time. These words have an almost magical ring to them for many of us. The Summer heat is giving way to cooler temperatures and with them clearer daytime and nighttime skies with Fall soon upon us. (The Autumnal Equinox actually happens on September 22nd.) And farmer’s markets are overflowing with an amazing variety of fruits and vegetables. Combine this with a big beautiful Full Moon, and the feeling that life is good is inescapable.

30Jul2021

Two Oppositions & Major Meteor Shower

Wow! A major annual meteor shower sandwiched between the oppositions of two major planets. If you enjoy skywatching, this is definitely the month to get outside on August evenings. And a telescope isn’t needed—just a clear night (and a lawn chair for the meteor shower).

28Jun2021

Moon Day!

Well, it’s July and time to commemorate again one of the most significant events in all of human history. Actually, many including some historians consider it to be the most significant event. We’re referring, of course, to the famed Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20th, 1969, when people left their home on Planet Earth and journeyed to another world in space.

31May2021

A Sunrise Partial Annular Solar Eclipse For The Northeast

In last month’s installment the Western part of the country was favored with a total lunar eclipse. This month the Northeast gets its turn—this time for a solar eclipse. As was the case in May, this will also largely be a “horizon-hugging” event requiring an unobstructed one to be seen to advantage. Despite the challenge, this will be well worth making the effort to observe.

01May2021

Moonset Total Lunar Eclipse For The West

This month the western part of the country gets to see an eclipse of the Moon—and next month the northeast will glimpse an eclipse of the Sun. (see the June Sky Talk). This will largely be a “horizon-hugging” event, with the most dramatic views being along the coast.

29Mar2021

How Big Is The Moon?

A simple question, right? But it depends on whether you mean how large in actual physical size our satellite is—or how large does it appear in the sky. The answer to one is straight forward, but that to the other is both complex and surprising.

26Feb2021

Dual Elongations of Both Inner Planets!

An “elongation” is the term used to describe the position of the inner planets Mercury and Venus with respect to the Sun in the sky. It can be a Greatest Eastern Elongation in which the planet appears at its greatest distance east of the setting Sun in the evening—or a Greatest Western Elongation where the planet is at its greatest distance west of the Sun in the morning sky.

31Dec2020

The Fastest & Slowest Moving Planets

The evening sky this month offers a great opportunity to see the Solar System’s two planetary extremes among the five bright naked-eye planets in terms of their orbital motion—sprinting Mercury and sluggish Saturn!

02Dec2020

This Year’s Christmas “Star”!

The planets Jupiter and Saturn will come together this month in a spectacular conjunction low in the southwestern sky after sunset just in time for Christmas, recreating that famed “Star of Bethlehem.” These two worlds have been near each other in the evening sky since late summer, drawing ever-closer together from week-to-week in preparation for this month’s big event.