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

August 11, 2015

Look up at the night sky. The stars first appear white, however, a closer look reveals many different colors. The night sky is filled with glittering jewels. Except for green. Here’s why … The Colors of Stars Some stars clearly look yellow, white, orange, or blue. Binoculars gloriously bring out these pastel hues. A small telescope reveals red and even purple. Blacks and browns are out there, too. But no green! That’s ironic, because green is the color to which our eyes are most sensitive. ... more

August 11, 2015

Everyone loves shooting stars and meteor showers. The Perseid meteor shower of August 11 to 13 is traditionally the best meteor shower of the year. The famous Perseid meteors peak over two nights, which provides some cloud insurance. Between August 11 and August 13 is usually the best time to see this meteor shower. Check out the Almanac Meteor Shower Calendar to see when other prominent showers will occur.  Some years, the Moon is absent and this makes for especially dark skies and great... more

August 10, 2015

In the past week, we've seen intriguing headlines. A supposed “earth twin” was found orbiting a star 1400 light years away. Researchers have already found thousands of exoplanets.  So what was special about discovering yet another one? In fact, this is a planet that's less Earthlike than others we've found. Packaging, that's what.  The Kepler team issued a press release calling their newly found world Earth 2.0. This catchy phrasing got media coverage and brought it global headlines. An artist... more

July 22, 2015

It’s storm season. You finish dinner at a restaurant and it’s suddenly pouring.  You gaze at your car parked not so far away.  Is it better to walk or run in the rain? Believe it or not, scientists have debated this for years.  If you run you get there faster, so less rain hits you.  But meanwhile you’re slamming more frontwise into the droplets, making them preferentially strike your chest and legs.  If you’d walked, they’d mostly hit your head and shoulders, which offer less surface. Is this... more

July 6, 2015

The New Horizons spacecraft is now just a few days from reaching Pluto. After traveling for 9 years, it is already sending back amazing close-ups. It will zoom past that tiny Dwarf Planet on Tuesday morning, July 14, with its closest approach a mere one Earth width above the freezing surface. But it will be so frantically busy taking pictures, it won’t get around to sending us the best close-ups until a day later—Wednesday. photo credit: Artist’s concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it... more

June 24, 2015

Everyone loved last Saturday's wonderful meeting of the Moon with Venus and Jupiter. Happily, the sky has one more treat up its sleeve. This conjunction may be even better. Start this Sunday evening, June 28.  Look into the fading twilight, say at 9:15 or 9:30.  Two brilliant stars side by side.  The most dazzling is Venus, now at its brightest.  It hasn't looked this good in years. Next to it is Jupiter.  They both circle around the Sun of course, but Venus travels so fast that we can actually... more

June 21, 2015

It's humidity season. And there ARE those among us who find humidity exciting, whose bodies seem to revel in tropical air. Most of us are not of that school; we use that divine invention, the air conditioner, as much for its drying as for its cooling talents. But, while it's upon us, let's discover humidity's scientific side. How does humidity affect temperature? The most important fact is that warm summer air can hold much more moisture than cold winter air up to 30 times more! Warm air is... more

June 15, 2015

June 20, 2015 was the year’s best conjunction. A gorgeous brilliant triangle—of Venus, Jupiter, and the crescent Moon—floats eerily in the west in fading twilight. It will even linger through the first hours of full darkness. The three brightest objects of the night all stand together. Truly spectacular. Photo of a conjunction from February, 2015. Credit: NASA This is a don’t miss event. If it’s clear Saturday evening, be sure to take a look any time between 9 and 10 PM. If it’s cloudy, peek... more

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

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