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 S.A.N.T.A C.L.A.U.S Style

Posted by Lydia on December 23rd, 2008

Just for the Holiday! Courtesy of Becky Ramotowski, a talented observer and writer living in New Mexico.

Polaris – well that’s where it all begins so take a look at the North Star, alpha Ursae Minoris. It’s a nice double star and it’s easy to find. Basically a no brainer for locating: head for the North Pole, when you get there look straight up. Sharp optics and medium power will lure the star that guides Santa’s sleigh to your house from his North Pole workshop.

Sirius – is also a double star, but it’s really tough to split. Look south and to the east to find it—as if you really need directions to find the brightest star in the night sky.

Albirio – One of the best small telescope, or mega binocular showpieces of the night sky. It’s the beta star of Cygnus the swan and since it marks the head of the fowl flying down the Milky Way it dives headfirst into the western horizon as December’s chilly night’s progress.

Neptune – According to Wikipedia it’s the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the solar system. It finishes in last place since Pluto was demoted by some astronomers and scientists in Belgium a few years back. I’ve been boycotting Belgian chocolates ever since.

Taurus – The whole complex known as the Hyades should be called the good-bye-a-dees since it is moving away from us. There’s a lot to love about this area since it’s home to M1, and those flashy and flirty seven sisters we admire so fondly as the Pleiades or M45.

Andromeda – The galaxy we all look up to as our role model. Well, not really but we do look at it as a way of seeing what we look like if we could go out in space and look back upon ourselves. Andromeda is going to smash through us in some very distant time. Read the rest of this post …

NORAD Santa Tracker

Posted by BC on December 19th, 2008

Santa - NORADSeveral agencies have joined efforts to provide international tracking of Santa’s flight around the world on December 24th 2008. If you want to follow the jolly old elf’s flight, you may do so in different languages.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have provided the Santa Tracker since 2002. Since that time many people have followed by satellite the weather conditions of the North Pole, and can follow any unusual activity, such as Santa in flight.

If you would like to take advantage of the Santa Tracker, here is the site: http://www.noradsanta.org

Special Bulletin from the IDA

Posted by Lydia on December 14th, 2008

Please read this special bulletin from the IDA website: Call to Action!

A national land auction on December 19th will open 300,000 acres of outstanding scenic quality wilderness lands in Utah, USA to lease for the purpose of natural gas and oil exploration. Imagine how the ceaseless glow from the oil and gas burn-off of these operations would dilute the pristine skies of the Utah parks! Read the rest of this post …

Beautiful Full Moon at Perigee Tonight

Posted by Lydia on December 12th, 2008

Tonight’s Full Moon is said to be 14% bigger and 30% brighter in comparison to other full moons of 2008. Even though our human eye can’t really tell the difference, the countryside should be lit up by full beaming overhead moonlight tonight. Send us your Lunar Pics!

Riding Piggy Back Over Clear Lake, TX

Posted by Lydia on December 12th, 2008

PiggyBackOverTx1

PiggyBackOverTx2

The Shuttle was transported back to Florida on a 747. Having to make a pit-stop in Dallas due to weather, the next day it made a quick fly-by over Ellington Field and Clear Lake, TX. One Fortunate Earthling, Mr. Joshua Good, captured these images as the Shuttle and its Transporter flew over his house.

Piggy-BackingOverTx

In an article published in The Astrophysical Journal, German astronomers report that after a sixteen-year study they can confirm the presence of a black hole at the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy.

The studies were carried out using the 3.5m New Technology Telescope (NTT) and the 8.2m Very Large Telescope (VLT) both operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and situated in Chile. Read the rest of this post …

Two New Books Reviewed for the Holidays

Posted by Marc on December 11th, 2008

astronomy-hacks-cover-mini1.jpgyour-cosmic-context-cover-mini1.jpgIf you’re looking for a good read over the holiday season then it’s worth checking out these two books: one theoretical, the other practical. Your Cosmic Context is akin to a student course book which takes the reader through the science of cosmology while Astronomy Hacks, packed full of observing tips is aimed at the more active amateur astronomer. To read the reviews, visit: Your Cosmic Context review and Astronomy Hacks review. You can find out what we think of many more astronomy related books in our dedicated reviews section.

Chandrayaan-1 Sits Softly on the Lunar Surface

Posted by Lydia on November 14th, 2008

Chandrayaan 1 landed successfully on the Moon today, three weeks after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) celebrated its launch from south India. Chandrayaan 1 began transmitting photographs on descent to the lunar surface.

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