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

July 15, 2017

Is it dangerous to stare at the Sun—or, a solar eclipse? As we prepare for the 2017 total solar eclipse, here are eclipse safety tips to protect your eyes—from eclipse sunglasses to welder’s goggle filters—and a few things they don’t tell you. First, if you are NOT on the path of totality—that ribbon of darkness—on eclipse day, then a partial solar eclipse will unfold for you on August 21. (Learn about different types of eclipses.) You cannot safely look at any of it. Not even for a minute. You... more

July 10, 2017

For the first time in nearly four decades, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the mainland United States! Are you ready? Even most backyard astronomers have never seen one. No surprise—they’re rare and expensive. For any spot on earth, totality happens once every 360 years on average. Some places, like Los Angeles, will wait more than a millennium. Everyone’s seen photos. The image of a black Moon surrounded by the solar corona is familiar. But is it merely a lovely natural scene along the... more

June 26, 2017

Independence Day (U.S.) is the evening when most Americans are watching the sky. While you wait for fireworks, gaze at Jupiter, the Moon, and Saturn! What’s in the Sky the 4th of July As twilight deepens around 9:30 PM on the 4th, the very brightest “star” is the planet Jupiter, to the left of where the Sun set.  At the same time, far to the left of the Moon hover two stars of equal brightness. The orange one is the famous Scorpius star Antares. The other is Saturn.  If you’re in doubt, point... more

June 18, 2017

This year, the June solstice falls on two different days: Wednesday, the 21st, for those in Eastern Standard Time, and Tuesday, the 20th, for time zones further west!. Enjoy seven cool (or, is it hot?) solstice facts—and see how many you know! If you ask friends what happens on the summer solstice, they’re likely to get it right. It’s the longest day of the year, meaning, the most minutes of sunshine. And the midday Sun is highest up in the sky, or lowest if you live in the Southern Hemisphere... more

June 7, 2017

The air you breathe is made up of lots of other things besides oxygen! So, what is air made of?  Let’s find out with Bob Berman, who always adds a breath of fresh air to any topic. When we look up into the sky, we’re looking through dozens of miles of transparent gases, which we breathe from birth to death.   Do you know the three gases you’re breathing in right now?  1. Ask your friends and, odds are, a few will correctly say nitrogen. It makes up nearly 80% of the air. It doesn’t hurt you and... more

June 2, 2017

June’s Full Moon is the lowest of the year. This has all sorts of consequences … Technically full on Friday June 9, the Full Moon for June spends the night hovering right next to a bright “star”—the planet Saturn. This is extremely helpful, because unlike Jupiter, say, whose extreme brilliance makes it easy to recognize, Saturn is much harder to identify as a planet unless you know astronomy pretty well. So next Friday, the Full Moon acts as a guide, an usher, so you know where to point a... more

May 31, 2017

Now that NASA’s Juno spacecraft is orbiting Jupiter and sending us spectacular pictures, especially of its polar regions, we can enjoy a happy coincidence: On this Saturday night, June 3, 2017, Jupiter will form a dramatic tight conjunction with the Moon. This Jupiter-Moon conjunction isn’t one of those pre-dawn, insomniac affairs. The Moon and Jupiter are highest up and closest together at nightfall, and can be seen even in evening twilight. Simply venture out after sunset and find the Moon.... more

May 12, 2017

Something special happens in the sky Saturday night, May 13.  The Moon will hover next to the planet Saturn.  And they’ll both be aligned with the center of our galaxy.  Cool stuff. And useful.  You don’t really need the Moon to act as an usher to guide you to Jupiter, because Jupiter is so brilliant it attracts attention on its own.  But Saturn is merely a somewhat bright “star” and doesn’t particularly stand out.  So having the Moon float alongside it is very helpful.  Both celestial bodies... more

May 6, 2017

For the next few days, the sky offers a cool and easy spectacle that requires no astronomy knowledge whatsoever. The dark night’s two brightest objects float together.  Each is fascinating in its own right. A Beautiful Conjunction of Jupiter and the Moon Absolutely everyone can identify the Moon. So it’s easy to spot that bright object next to the Moon—giant Jupiter! And the two join together all night long. They come closest on Sunday, May 7. So at your leisure, just step outside and look... more

April 30, 2017

We’ve grown up with four seasons. But they don’t always match what we experience. What about dividing our season by the strength of the Sun? Think about it. People who go skiing or snowboarding in mid-December have officially hit the slopes during the autumn. Those who ski in mid-March are doing so during winter.  And yet, those March skiers get sunburned six times faster than those on the slopes in December.  This proves that the Sun is much stronger in mid March.  So is there any way to think... more

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