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

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

Enjoy this guest post by David Rankin, astrophotographer, and discover more about the constellation Orion—including a floating horse! One of the many amazing features inside the great constellation Orion is the “Horse Head Nebula,” which is seen in the below 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 nebula near the bottom left. All of these... more

October 30, 2013

Enjoy this guest post about the constellation Orion by astrophotographer David Rankin.  This week, Orion harbors an awesome secret … a witch! By now, hopefully, you should be able to spot Orion in the winter sky. When you walk out just after dark, Orion’s bright figure towers over you to the south …  It’s the Witch Head Nebula. See the photo below. Can you make out the shape of a witch’s head? Do you see a hat, a large nose, a cheekbone, and a protruding chin? The witch stares back at the... more

October 26, 2013

This week, we have a guest astrophotographer from Southern Utah, David Rankin, with a special interest in exploring the night sky via long-exposure digital photography … The camera is able to capture space in a way that our eyes can not. Let’s explore what objects lie just beyond the reach of the naked eye during any given season. As the colder months rush in, the constellation Orion starts to work its way up high into the southern sky. The giant hunter in Greek mythology makes his debut every... more

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