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. 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)!

June 11, 2015

Got Binoculars? Then you've got it made! Get started sky watching with some tips on how to choose binoculars. June offers natural treasures by day and the starry universe by night. Both can be greatly enhanced with a simple pair of binoculars. Odds are, you've already got a pair, gathering dust somewhere. This moonless week is an ideal time to put them to use. With lenses of glass—essentially melted sand, probably the least expensive item on the planet—human eyes can then soar through the... more

June 3, 2015

Did Most of the Universe Go Missing? Seventy-one years ago, most of the universe went missing.  According to many astronomers, it's still missing. The problem started with the famous Swiss physicist Fritz Zwicky.  It was he who coined the word supernova.  He was such a heavy hitter, everyone paid attention when his gigantic brain went Boing. It did exactly that in 1933, when he studied speeds in a group of galaxies. What he perceived was astonishing.  Each member moved so quickly, it should... more

May 19, 2015

“What Is the Universe Expanding Into?” A reader recently asked that question. So here's the inside scoop. But first, what exactly is expanding? Not our solar system with its planets orbiting the sun Not our Milky Way galaxy of 400 billion stars. It never gets any bigger. Not the galaxies right around us. Indeed, the nearest spiral, Andromeda, is approaching us at 70 miles per second and will someday harmlessly collide with us! In fact, nothing the naked eye can see, even on the... more

May 11, 2015

This week offers dark moonless skies. Perfect for meteors! We've all seen them streak across the heavens. But did you know that…. You always see more after midnight, when you're on the forward-facing part of Earth You see more from August through early January than any other month You never see the meteoroid itself—just the glowing air surrounding it Most are the size of apple seeds Some of these facts seem counterintuitive. After all, a reader recently reported seeing one come down... more

April 28, 2015

Welcome to our night sky exploration. Let's have fun! I know you've already spotted the Evening Star after sunset.   It generates more UFO reports than any other object.  It's simply the brightest thing in the sky, after the Moon. It's Venus, the closest planet to us. Right now, Venus is about as high up as it can get. As evening twilight deepens, it's more than a third of the way up the western sky, and remains dazzling for hours. It's astronomy made easy. At this week's end, it will float... more

October 7, 2014

Wake up early tomorrow, October 8, 2014 for a total eclipse of the Moon—visible throughout the United States and Canada! This eclipse is the second of four consecutive total lunar eclipses, or what we call a “tetrad.” See all the dates on our Eclipse page. For East Coasters, the total eclipse begins at 6:25 A.M. EDT; the Moon will be hanging low over the western horizon as the brightening dawn approaches, so only part of the eclipse may be seen before the Moon sets. The Moon may appear... more

June 23, 2014

The Whirlpool Galaxy, or M51, is a massive spiral type galaxy that is positioned beautifully face-on near The Big Dipper in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is about 24 million light years away and part of a cluster of gravitationally bound galaxies called … wait for it … the M51 group. Messier 51 was discovered on October 13, 1773 by Charles Messier. Charles was a famous comet hunter, and on his quest to find the icy space balls he put together a very nice catalog of objects he came... more

April 1, 2014

I've been cooped up inside looking out the window hoping for a clear night to setup my astrophotography equipment and bring you all a new image to enjoy. Unfortunately this time of year in the Southwest, like much of the rest of the country, brings in a lot of storms. This has really put a damper on my ability to explore space. Luckily the other night we had a brief high pressure system setup over Southern Utah and I was presented with some very nice dark skies. It was a great night for imaging... more

December 28, 2013

We are going to jump ship here and head back toward Earth for a close-up on Jupiter. Exploring Orion has been a lot of fun, but there is a lot to see around our local solar system as well. Jupiter is easy to spot even from the most light-polluted areas. Not long after sunset, looking to the east, you will see it breach the horizon. Jupiter appears as a very bright star with a faintly reddish hue. Whip out a simple pair of binoculars and you will easily spot the four large moons of Jupiter... more

November 15, 2013

Episode 3: A Star is Born! If you are one of those people who has peered out into the darkness of space and secretly longed for, say, a horse to be floating around out there, today is your lucky day! Among other amazing features inside Orion is the Horse Head Nebula, which is seen in the attached photograph as the red area near the star Alnitak in the center of the photo. Not far from the Horse Head Nebula is the Great Orion Nebula, to the upper right. There is also a faint blue reflection... more

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