view counter

Regulars (Sky Watch by J. Alex Knoll)

While the Harvest Moon lingers, the sun begins a fast getaway

If you’ve been outside after dark the past few days, you’ve likely noticed the full-appearing moon. While Thursday the 19th marks the true full phase, September’s Harvest Moon fills the sky for several days at a time. The full moon closest to Autumnal Equinox, the Harvest Moon gets its name from the role it played historically in providing light for farmers to bring in the last of the season’s crops.
...

Stellar incubator is home to thousands of stars

Saturn and Venus have been fixtures of the early evening sky, and come Friday, the two are within half a dozen degrees of one another. By Tuesday they are barely three degrees apart low in the west-southwest immediately after sunset. Venus is so bright you may spot her while the sky is still lit. Saturn pops into view to the upper left of Venus....

Venus, Saturn and the moon make for a beautiful sight, but don’t read too much into it

Twilight Thursday and Friday reveals dazzling Venus low in the west with much fainter Spica less than two degrees below. Look for Saturn a dozen degrees above and to the left of this pairing.
    In the half-hour following sunset Saturday, an ever-so-thin nascent crescent moon joins the party, hovering just above the western horizon to the lower right of Venus and Spica. To spot it, you will need good timing, an unimpeded view and maybe even binoculars.
...

Anyone can spot Venus, but what about Neptune 3 billion miles away?

The waning crescent moon graces our pre-dawn skies, appearing lower and lower in the east throughout the week. The morning of the 31st, look for it near bright Jupiter. The following morning you’ll find the moon midway between a triangle of bright stars: the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux and Procyon in Canis Minor....

But brilliant Sirius isn’t to blame

For kids heading back to school, summer has truly gone to the dogs. But neither that nor your canine companion panting on the cold basement floor is why the hottest days of the year are referred to as the Dog Days of summer. The answer shines in the heavens in the form of a star more than 81⁄2 light years away.
...

Full moon is like a celestial movie screen

As the sun sets, Venus beckons above the west horizon until it sets around 9pm. This evening star is losing ground, setting a little earlier each night.
    Saturn is in the southwest at dusk and sets around midnight. Don’t confuse its steady golden glow with twinkling Spica a dozen degrees to its east.
...

With up to 100 meteors an hour, don’t miss the Perseids

This year’s Perseid meteor shower peaks late Sunday and Monday nights. And with the moon just a few days past new phase and setting in the early evening, the Perseids are worth staying up late or waking before the sun.
    The Perseids are one of the great meteor showers of the year, and this year the International Meteor Organization predicts up to 100 an hour at the peak.
...

Its beauty aside, Venus is no place like home

As the suns sets and the sky darkens, Venus beckons in the west at the feet of Leo and less than 10 degrees from the lion’s heart, Regulus.
...

The summer Milky Way is backdrop for the Delta-Aquarid meteor shower

The moon wanes through morning skies, reaching last quarter on the 29th. That offers a chance to see the great Milky Way arcing across the heavens. You’ll need to escape any urban glare, but the reward is worth the effort. The Milky Way is our home galaxy, as well as home of all the stars you can see with the unaided eye. It encircles the globe and is visible from anywhere on earth, where we are looking edgewise into its center....

Bright pairings flank the full moon

Thursday the 18th, look to the lower left of the waxing gibbous moon for fiery Antares, the heart of Scorpius. Saturday, the near-full moon is less than 10 degrees below and to the right of Altair, the gleaming eye of Aquila the eagle and one of the three points in the Summer Triangle. Monday, the full moon blazes amid the dim stars of Capricorn. This moon is called the Buck Moon, the Thunder Moon and the Hay Moon.
...