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 » »

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 …

Supernova in M82

Posted by Kelly on January 27th, 2014
The Supernova 2014J in M82

The Supernova 2014J in M82. Credit: UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright

With the recent supernova in M82, it’s a good time for us to review how to spot the fairly accessible galaxies M81 and M82, which reside in close quarters in the easy-to-find galaxy Ursa Major, known for its Big Dipper asterism.

The first days of February will be the peak of brightness for the new supernova, named SN 2014J. At 11th magnitude, a telescope will be required to capture the light from the explosion as it brightens a point near the end of the magnitude-8.4 cigar-shaped galaxy. The supernova is expected to peak around magnitude 10.5 on February 2. Read the rest of this post …

The Brightest Stars of Winter

Posted by Kelly on December 30th, 2013
Jupiter and the Winter Triangle by John Chumack

Jupiter and the Winter Triangle by John Chumack

In a large portion of the world, stargazing in December, January, and February is not ideal. As I write this it is -11 degrees Fahrenheit or -24 Celsius. I’m also battling with some sort of sinus illness that is starting to feel reminiscent of the plague, which only makes me want to stay indoors all the more.

But the thing about winter’s sky is that some of the brightest stars reside there. You can spot them from inside your warm home. Read the rest of this post …

Winter’s Brightest Nebulae

Posted by Kelly on November 30th, 2013

M78 in the Orion Nebula by John Chumack

Some of the brightest nebulae are found close together in the winter sky in the Northern Hemisphere. Taurus leads Orion up over the eastern horizon, both constellations distinctive with their bright stars and prominent shapes. Taurus is notable for the V-shape that forms the bull’s head along with the little star cluster known as the Pleiades. Orion is famous for its belt and the three stars that lie tightly in a row, outlined by a large rectangle that makes up the Hunter’s body. The two constellations contain some of the easiest nebulae for amateur astronomers to see. Read the rest of this post …

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