These earthly godfathers of Heaven's lights, that give a name to every fixed star, have no more profit of their shining nights than those that walk and know not what they are.

— William Shakespeare

Blogs

Solstice Shadows

NASA NIGHT SKY NOTES

Solstice Shadows
David Prosper

Solstice Shadows

Visitors to Both Jupiter and Saturn

by David Prosper

 Have you observed Jupiter and Saturn moving closer to each other over the past few months? On December 21, the two worlds will be at their closest, around 1/5 of a full Moon apart! While the two gas giants may appear close, in reality they are hundreds of millions of miles apart. Despite this vast distance, a select few missions have visited both worlds by using a gravity assist from giant Jupiter to slingshot them towards Saturn, saving time and fuel.

Hubble at 30: Three Decades of Cosmic Discovery

 Hubble Telescope

Hubble at 30: Three Decades of Cosmic Discovery

David Prosper

Dim Delights in Cancer

 55 Cancri

Dim Delights in Cancer

David Prosper

Cancer the Crab is a dim constellation, yet it contains one of the most beautiful and easy-to-spot star clusters in our sky: the Beehive Cluster. Cancer also possesses one of the most studied exoplanets: the superhot super-Earth, 55 Cancri e.

 

 

Advice on buying your first telescope

Hobby Killers

For some good advice on how to buy your first telescope, or if you need some guidance on buying one as a gift, check out this article from Sky & Telescope magazine:

Springtime Planet Party

Springtime Planet Party

David Prosper

                                  

March brings longer days for Northern Hemisphere observers, especially by the time of the equinox. Early risers are treated to the majority of the bright planets dancing in the morning skies, with the Moon passing between them at the beginning and end of the month.

Earth EquinoxThe vernal equinox occurs on March 20, marking the official beginning of spring for the Northern Hemisphere. Our Sun shines equally on the Northern and Southern Hemispheres during the moment of equinox, which is why the March and September equinoxes are the only times of the year when the Earth’s north and south poles are simultaneously lit by sunlight. Exacting astronomers will note that the length of day and night on the equinox are not precisely equal; the date when they are closest to equal depends on your latitude, and may occur a few days earlier or later than the equinox itself. One complicating factor is that the Sun isn’t a point light source, but a disc. Its edge is refracted by our atmosphere as it rises and sets, which adds several minutes of light to every day. The Sun doesn’t neatly wink on and off at sunrise and sunset like a light bulb, and so there isn’t a perfect split of day and night on the equinox - but it’s very close!

 

 

 

Observe Apollo 8’s Lunar Milestones

NASA Night Sky Notes:

Observe Apollo 8’s Lunar Milestones  

By David Prosper

                                   

December marEarthriseks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 8 mission, when humans first orbited the Moon in a triumph of human engineering. The mission may be most famous for “Earthrise,” the iconic photograph of Earth suspended over the rugged lunar surface. “Earthrise” inspired the imaginations of people around the world and remains one of the most famous photos ever taken. This month also brings a great potential display of the Geminids and a close approach by Comet 46P/Wirtanen

 

 

 

 

 

Observe the Moon

 

Observe the Moon

By Jane Houston Jones and Jessica Stoller-Conrad


This year’s International Observe the Moon Night is on Oct. 20. On that night the 11-day-old waxing gibbous Moon will rise in the late afternoon and set before dawn. Sunlight will reveal most of the lunar surface and the Moon will be visible all night long. You can observe the Moon’s features whether you’re observing with the unaided eye, through binoculars or through a telescope.