This Week's Amazing Sky

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About this Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s blog on stargazing and astronomy. 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, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe

April 4, 2018

Space is famous for zippy activity, like streaking meteors that sail through the night sky. But space has another face—a slow-and-easy side. In reality, Venus, the Moon, and many of our most beloved sky objects are as slow as molasses. What’s the slowest-moving planet? Slowest-spinning star? Read on for some fun space facts. What is the Slowest Planet Venus, which is floating higher each evening in twilight, low in the west, is the slowest-spinning body in the known universe. If you walked... more

April 4, 2018

Sometimes the actual sky is so compelling, we’re forced to simply look out the window. Such is the case on early Saturday morning (April 7) when the Moon will meet Saturn and Mars. And you don’t need dark, unpolluted conditions to see it; city skies will do just fine. Where to Look We’re talking an hour before dawn. Figure 5:30 or so. Happily it’s Saturday morning. No school, maybe no work that day. Perhaps you’re still up from Friday night revelries. Maybe you’re an insomniac. If not, set the ... more

March 27, 2018

When is the next Blue Moon? And exactly what is a Blue Moon? There’s some confusion about this popular phrase. Here’s the scoop. Why is it a Blue Moon? We got a lot of letters about this. Some folks imagine that it actually appears the color blue. Others assume it’s a term that originated with Native American folklore. Neither is true. Also, Blue Moon is not an astronomical term. This term only started in the 1940’s as a result of a mistake in an astronomy magazine. But it slowly went viral in... more

March 20, 2018

This year, the vernal equinox falls on Tuesday, March 20. Are day and night equal today? Does the Sun rise exactly east and set exactly west? Learn about the March equinox from Bob Berman, Almanac astronomer. Why Does the Spring Equinox Fall on Different Dates? If you thought that the Spring Equinox was only on March 21, you may be dating yourself. Spring arrived on the 21st of March during most of the 20th century, but the event slides earlier and earlier during the 400-year Gregorian calendar... more

March 14, 2018

On Wednesday, March 14 (3/14), Pi Day is celebrated. It’s the sort of holiday only celebrated by number freaks like yours truly. Of course, to honor the never-ending number 3.14159, many of us pi lovers do end up celebrating by eating the actual pie dessert. Let’s have fun with numbers and a nice piece of π … The date 3/14 reminds everyone that the Greek letter π, always representing the ratio between any circle’s circumference to its diameter, is about 3.14. Pi or π which has infinite digits (... more

March 9, 2018

An unusual thing happens Sunday evening at 7:30 P.M.—a beautiful meeting of the three closest worlds to Earth. The Moon, the planet Venus, and the strange planet Mercury will all be in alignment. And you don’t need a telescope! But you do need a clear view of the west. If you have a window that faces the sunset all the way down with no hills or trees or houses, that’s perfect. Otherwise go to such a place and be there at around 7:30— or, a half hour after your local sunset. And If you have... more

March 2, 2018

Who hasn’t heard of the Dog Star, Sirius? It’s the brightest star in the sky. Right now, it’s at its most prominent position of the year, highest up at 7 P.M.—right after darkness falls. And boy, is it easy to find. Plus, you also have a chance to see its pup! Yes, it’s a two-dog night. How to Find Sirius Simply locate those obvious three-in-a-row stars of Orion’s belt. Follow the stars down and left. They point to the most brilliant star, which has a distinct blue-white color. Simple. About... more

February 23, 2018

A star is born! If you’ve followed my column, you may recall me saying that a new star will appear in the night sky. This is exciting space news and worth sharing with more sky watch enthusiasts. In 2022—only a few years from now—an odd type of exploding star called a red nova will appear in our skies in 2022.  This will be the first naked eye nova in decades. And the mechanism behind it is fascinating as well. This story really begins 10 years ago, when astronomers closely monitored a distant... more

February 22, 2018

This year will indeed be extraordinary for planets. We will see one of the closest approaches of Mars in our lives, in midsummer. We’ll have conjunctions galore. We’ll see all the planets lined up like a string of pearls. All that is mostly for the spring and summer. But the show is about to begin.  ”I hope I die peacefully in my sleep like my father; not screaming and yelling like his passengers.” What has that old line have to do with planets? Hang in there. Have you missed the “Evening Star... more

February 17, 2018

In mid-February, the Moon returns to the evening sky. This brings up an ancient puzzle: How does the Moon affect us?  This issue often confuses people. We all know the Moon DOES control the tides which, in turn, controls much else. Certainly, the Moon can certainly can affect our emotions—from a sense of awe and wonder to perhaps a self-contemplative and spiritual feeling. But I’m speaking of the Moon’s effect on our bodies, not whether the Moon drives us crazy which a whole other story!... more

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