Summer is the season for Noctilucent Clouds

Full Moon and Perigee Moon converge for a Supermoon

Track down two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta

Planetary pairings of Saturn and Mars, Jupiter and Venus

The Perseid meteor shower peaks

The Equinox restores balance to days and nights

Mars meets its rival, Antares

An early Harvest Moon occurs in September

Look out for Noctilucent Clouds
Full details in the Sky Guide » »

An Early Morning Eclipse

Posted by Kelly on October 10th, 2014
A Partial Lunar Eclipse during Moonset

A Partial Lunar Eclipse during Moonset

The total lunar eclipse was going to occur from about 5:30 to 6:30 on Wednesday morning. My alarm was set for 6:00, like usual, and the forecast was for perfectly clear skies.

I was awake fifteen minutes before my alarm but patiently waited until six o’clock, because the only upstairs windows that face west where the eclipsed Moon was setting are in my children’s bedrooms. I was not awake enough to go downstairs nor mean enough to wake them unnecessarily early. At 6:00 I walked into my son’s bedroom and raised his blinds, like I do every morning to wake him. This has become less effectual as the school year draws on and it’s still dark in the morning. This morning there wouldn’t even be moonlight to wake him, as the fully eclipsed Moon was shining dimly with a gray pallor. Read the rest of this post …

Losing the Comet but Winning the Ring

Posted by Kelly on September 16th, 2014
The Ring Nebula, M57 in Lyra, by John Chumack

The Ring Nebula, M57 in Lyra, by John Chumack

When the clouds finally cleared from overhead, they were replaced by clouds upon the ground. I stood in my driveway looking up at the stars arrayed above while fog swirled around my feet. These are not ideal conditions for observing, but at least the stars can be seen, whereas the clouds had been blocking all manner of wonders, including the recent aurora, for nights on end. Read the rest of this post …

Targeting Sagittarius

Posted by Kelly on August 31st, 2014
M8, The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius, by John Chumack

M8, The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius, by John Chumack

Sagittarius is an incredibly rich area for stargazing, but it’s only easily viewable for a short time. Summer is the best season for observing, but even then it stays low on the southern horizon. Sagittarius is an easy constellation even for children to spot because it has a grouping of stars that looks almost exactly like a teapot. Read the rest of this post …

Observing Summer Constellations

Posted by Kelly on July 28th, 2014
The Milky Way by John Chumack

The Milky Way and Vega by John Chumack

On summer evenings as adults sit around bonfires and kids run in the yard playing flashlight tag, eyes turn skyward. Teach your friends and family the most important summer constellations with this handy guide on what star formations are overhead. Read the rest of this post …

Crossing off the Bucket List: Zodiacal Light

Posted by Kelly on May 27th, 2014
Zodiacal Light

The Zodiacal Light looks pyramidal shaped from horizon stretching upward. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky

Amateur astronomers never really take a vacation from stargazing. And in fact, sometimes vacations provide for the best stargazing.

Over spring break this year my family and I did a tour of the national parks, starting and ending our vacation in Las Vegas, one of the most light polluted locations on Earth. But McCarran International airport made for a good spot to begin our travels first to Utah’s national parks, then to Great Basin National Park in Nevada along the loneliest highway in America, and finally to Death Valley National Park in California, before the short jog back to Las Vegas. Read the rest of this post …

Up for the Lunar Eclipse

Posted by Kelly on April 30th, 2014
The Moon in Eclipse with Mars and Spica, April 2014

The Moon in Eclipse with Mars and Spica, April 2014

As a chronic insomniac, I didn’t feel the need to set my alarm for the April lunar eclipse. Just the night before I had been awake from 3:45 to 5:30, so I figured that there was a good chance that sometime within the window of the eclipse I would be awake. At my location, totality would last from 2:07 to 3:25 a.m. with partial phases for an hour on either side of that. Surely I would be awake for some of it. Read the rest of this post …

In Search of Noctilucent Clouds

Posted by Kelly on March 31st, 2014
Noctilucent Clouds as seen by the ISS

Noctilucent Clouds as seen by the ISS

On a list of elusive observing targets, noctilucent clouds are one of the most challenging and one I have yet to spy. These clouds, also called polar mesospheric clouds or night-shining clouds, are found in the mesosphere, higher than all other clouds. Most clouds and weather on earth are confined to the troposphere, or layer of air closest to the ground. The mesosphere is located 80 kilometers above our planet’s surface. Read the rest of this post …

The Importance of the Stars

Posted by Kelly on February 28th, 2014
The stars around the nebula Thor's Helmet, by John Chumack

The stars around the nebula Thor’s Helmet, by John Chumack

We spend the vast majority of our lives indoors. We’re at work, at school, or at home, with activities such as sleeping, watching TV, or having dinner with the family. This is especially true during the winter months when making the short sprint from a building to our cars can be a test of our endurance. Read the rest of this post …

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