The Ringed Planet Returns
After several months with no bright planet well placed in the evening sky, Saturn returns to easy visibility in January, making a striking formation together with the Sickle of Leo. And on Saturday, North Americans can witness a close conjunction of the Moon and Regulus, Leo's brightest star.
Best Meteor Shower of 2006
With only minor interference from the Moon, the Geminids should put on a great display late Wednesday night and Thursday morning. What's more, a major solar flare just erupted, providing a strong chance for a tremendous northern lights show on Thursday or Friday.
Mercury Transit Observed
Strategically placed sunspots ushered Mercury onto and off the Sun's disk on Wednesday, November 8th.
Crescent Moon in Good Company
A 2½-day-old Moon lines up with two bright planets and a first-magnitude star — with an occultation thrown in for some well-situated observers.
Earth Bites Moon
On the night of September 7-8, a partial lunar eclipse will be visible in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. On the same night, observers on the west coast of the Americas will see a double shadow transit on Jupiter. Head outdoors and see it for yourself.
Although the peak has past, the Perseid meteor shower, an annual celestial event beloved by millions of skywatchers around the world, still has a few stragglers left to see. Try looking for some tonight.
Will all eight planets ever line up on the same side of the Sun?
Will there ever be a moment when all eight major planets are in a straight line on the same side of the Sun? Jean Meeus addresses this in Mathematical Astronomy Morsels (Willmann-Bell, 1997). He points out that you have to start by defining the question precisely. Let’s reduce the problem…
If you combine the magnitudes of all visible stars, how bright a star will you come up with?
Just wondering. . . . If you combine the magnitudes of all visible stars (down to 6th magnitude), how bright a star will you come up with? About 9,000 stars are brighter than magnitude 6.5, the traditional criterion for naked-eye visibility. Their combined magnitude is almost exactly –5, which is…
Why aren't Earth's night skies more colorful?
Why are Earth's skies so boring? You see pictures of galaxies, nebulae, clusters, etc., but they're always far away. Why couldn't Earth have been in the middle of a colorful nebula or some other non-boring zone of space? Celestial photos show what things would look like if your eyes were…
How does the Moon's phase affect the skyglow of any given location, and how many days before or after a new Moon is a dark site not compromised?
How does the Moon's phase affect the skyglow of any given location? How many days before or after a new Moon is a dark site not compromised? The answer is complicated because the Moon's glow is even more directional than light pollution. Skyglow is several times brighter near the Moon…
How do astronomers accurately determine wobbles in a star's motion?
The discovery of planets around other stars is based on wobbles in the stars' motions. Don't you have to measure from a stationary point in space to accurately determine this/ Isn't there an added wobble because Earth rotates on its axis and travels around the Sun? Yes, Earth's rotation and…
How many daylight hours do you get in a year?
No matter where in the world you live, do you get the same number of daylight hours over the course of a year? No. The equator actually gets fewer hours of daylight than most other latitudes. Any given place would be in daylight exactly 50 percent of a year’s time…
How do you pronounce “Vega” and “Canis Major”?
How do you pronounce “Vega”? “Canis Major”? In 1941 the American Astronomical Society formed a committee of Samuel G. Barton, George A. Davis Jr., and Daniel J. McHugh to consult with astronomers, educators, Arabic scholars, and planetarium lecturers and come up with a list of preferred pronunciations for common star…
Perseids Peak as Predicted
Preliminary analysis of the 2004 Perseid meteor shower confirms the forecast of an unusually brief and intense peak of meteor activity over Europe and Asia.
Catch Comet Machholz at Its Best
For observers in the northern hemisphere, all the circumstances are at their best in the first half of January for viewing this fine little comet.
Comet Machholz Observed
Comet Machholz, C/2004 Q2, continues to brighten on schedule as it moves toward the northern sky.
This Is a Quiet Sun?
A series of major solar flares from sunspot 696 has kept geomagnetic activity near or above "storm" level ever since November 7th.
Jupiter's Daytime Disappearance
Jupiter's belts are faintly visible as it disappears behind the Moon's bright limb.Sky & Telescope photo by Gary Seronik. Observers across the eastern part of North America were treated to a daytime occultation of Jupiter by the thin crescent Moon on November 9, 2004. Fortunately, most observers had either clear…
The World-Series Eclipse
Scattered clouds seemed to be the norm across most of the eastern parts of Europe and almost all of the Americas: the visibility zone of the last total lunar eclipse until 2007.
Venus at Its Best
Venus is readily visible in the evening sky until late May during this most favorable apparition of its eight-year cycle.