This Week's Amazing Sky


About this Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s blog on stargazing and astronomy. Wondering which bright objects you’re seeing in the night sky? Want to learn about a breathtaking sight coming up? Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, we’ll cover everything under the Sun (and Moon)!

January 11, 2017

Don’t miss beautiful planet Venus dazzling in the evening sky this month. It’s that bright “star” you see just after sunset—the third-brightest object after the Sun and Moon. Let’s be Venus groupies!  Centuries ago, a number of cultures like the Maya pretty much worshiped Venus.  As the evening star each gets maximally prominent every 19 months, sure enough, the Maya had a 19 month calendar.  Well, these evenings just after sunset Venus hovers in the west so brilliantly it’s impossible to... more

December 31, 2016

On New Year’s Eve, the brightest star visible from our planet, Sirius, reaches its highest point in the sky as the clock strokes midnight (or, near to it).  What a cosmic way to shine in the new year! And 2017 is going to be an amazing year in the heavens, too! Simply step outdoors on New Year’s Eve, as local midnight approaches. Look toward the south and you’ll easily see the brightest star, Sirius, also known as the “Dog Star.”  Since neither the Moon nor any bright planets are around at that... more

December 12, 2016

The year’s very best meteor shower is usually the Geminids, on Tuesday night, December 13, 2016. This year, there’s some competition. The Geminids are the sky’s “Old Faithful” when it comes to shooting stars. They produce between one and two meteors every minute. And they’re much slower than those famous summer Perseids or the hit‑or‑miss Leonids because they do NOT strike us head‑on. The Geminids come at Earth sideways. At 20 miles per second, they lope along at half the speed of the other... more

December 2, 2016

These are our darkest afternoons. But, surprise! For most of us, Thursday, December 8, will bring the turnaround. It’s a major winter milestone: the day of our earliest sunset. This puzzles people, but in fact it’s a reliable yearly sequence. First comes earliest sunset, this week. Then there’s the solstice half a month later, the day with the fewest minutes of daylight. Finally, another two weeks later, in early January, we get our murkiest morning—the latest sunrise. So we’re now slam bang at... more

December 1, 2016

Look for Venus to hover spectacularly to the left of the crescent Moon on Friday evening, December 2, and to dangle below the Moon the next night, Saturday. And she will continue to shine! Read on … This Evening Star’s been missing since July.  We miss her! The blaze of Venus in evening twilight has been a beloved sight for countless centuries and an obsession for cultures as disparate as the Babylonians and the Maya. Our “Sister Planet” has instead lurked either invisibly on the far side of... more

November 3, 2016

Of all the things happening in the universe this year, the November 14, 2016, Supermoon will probably get the most media attention.  This truly ultra-close lunar approach is the real deal. Supermoon was never a term uttered by astrophysicists. But the public loves this concept, and, after all, it’s a rare celestial event that physically affects us.  If you live anywhere where tides go up and down, you’ll see them do that next Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. It’s a tangible connection between our... more

October 30, 2016

The Sun is setting earlier and earlier: It’s really dark. The leaves are dropping quickly now, so barren branches now tremble in the wind. And yes, even that wind is generally stronger during the cold months. Gather round the campfire. It’s the perfect time to tell blood curdling tales of the sky’s sinister side. Ramping up the scare-factor is that backyard sky-gazers are usually on our own. Seldom can we coax others to join us on freezing fall nights to stare at a rambling star pattern that we... more

October 14, 2016

This Sunday, October 16, 2016, is the full Moon (or Saturday, depending on your time zone).  And some media outlets are calling it a “Supermoon.” This has  gotten out of hand. First, in astronomy there is no such term as “Supermoon.”  It has no actual scientific definition.  But a few years ago some in the media were starting to use the word Supermoon for any full Moon that was unusually close to us. This was logical.  The Moon’s orbit is not circular but elliptical and it even changes shape. ... more

September 30, 2016

We’re seeing media hype about a “Black Moon” on Friday, September 30, 2016.  Don’t get too excited. It’s just a nickname for a New Moon.  A New Moon is practically invisible to the naked eye, so there’s nothing to see! What is a Black Moon? “Black Moon” is not an astronomical term. In fact, if you ask a sample of astronomers, both professional and amateur, very few will have even heard of it. It’s not even a particularly widely known folklore thing. As for its definition, some people (like some... more

September 23, 2016

After the Moon, Venus is the brightest thing in the night sky.  Nothing else even comes close.  No wonder civilizations through the ages, like the Maya, worshiped it.  But Venus is not always there.  Sometimes it’s behind the Sun.  Sometimes it’s very low in our sky, hidden in twilight behind hills. For nine months at a time it’s only visible in the pre-dawn as a gift for early risers and insomniacs. And nearly all this year, it’s been invisibly lurking behind the Sun. When it finally does... more


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