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)!

November 4, 2015

Look straight up at a star—and see where you are heading! Something very cool is overhead. Next clear night, look straight up just as full darkness falls. (No other time will work because the stars move as the night wears on.)  A single bright star sits at the zenith or (if you’re in a southern state) pretty darn close.  Not to be confused with an even brighter star—Vega—which is quite high but not really overhead. What Star is Directly Overhead? The overhead star is Deneb.  It’s the most... more

October 30, 2015

Should Pluto be a planet? Having now seen some of our first-ever close-up pictures of Pluto, let’s re-visit what to many people is a sore subject. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (the world body that names the contents of the universe)  demoted Pluto to a Dwarf Planet because it really does not match the other eight. It’s far smaller, with only 4% the mass of even tiny Mercury. And it has a very unplanetlike orbit from every angle. B ut the clincher was finding more Plutos out... more

October 22, 2015

The action remains glued to the morning sky.  We’re talking 6:00 AM.  Normally, planet conjunctions happen for one or two days and then the heavens move on.  Not now.  Bright, eye catching, these in-your-face planet configurations keep lighting up the predawn theater like a hit Broadway play. Don’t bother looking at the calendar or figuring out which morning is best.  Just grab the first clear morning. Look east at 6:00 AM or even 6:30.  The action isn’t even very low. It’s no challenge.... more

October 12, 2015

The wild morning display continues! See four planets performing the year’s best conjunctions. It’s bright and easy. This coming weekend, Saturday morning October 17, and Sunday the 18th, the two brightest “stars” hover together. It all happens 45 minutes before sunrise, and you’ll need a clear view toward the east. The topmost, brightest “star” is Venus. The “star” below it is Jupiter. With those planets identified, now look next to Jupiter for a faint orange star. That’s Mars. All three... more

October 9, 2015

Can I convince you to wake up just before dawn?  What if I tell you it’s the greatest planetary spectacle of the year?  And you get two chances—this Saturday morning and Sunday morning, October 10 and 11. What’s there depends on whether you have a clear unobstructed view to the east.  Some do, like many in Kansas or Florida. If you have such a gorgeous view toward sunrise then you really shouldn’t miss this. Even if you don’t, it’s well worth a look.  Saturday Planet Alignment Face east... more

October 1, 2015

The sun is the most powerful object in our neighborhood. Its nuclear furnace creates blistering heat and blinding light. Magnetism and magnetic fields plays no role in the process which creates the Sun’s energy. That’s how it always appeared. Not any more. During the past few years researchers have found that there are stars with extremely powerful magnetic fields. They are neutron stars which are the smallest, most compact starts in the universe, created by the collapse of massive stars after... more

September 21, 2015

It’s the headline sky event of 2015: The total eclipse of the Harvest Moon. Also called the SuperMoon. Also Called the Blood Moon. Also called the MegaMoon. Or, the Mega Harvest Moon. Whew!  Basically, it’s a very cool total lunar eclipse.  Imagine: the full Moon—the Harvest Moon, no less—goes into Earth’s shadow to create a total lunar eclipse at the same hour it arrives at its closest to Earth of 2015! The hype is simply the difference between how astronomers see it, compared to the... more

September 16, 2015

Coming up next week is the Blood Moon. Also called the MegaMoon. Or, the Mega Harvest Moon. Or, the Hyper Mega Harvest Blood Moon. We could even label it a total lunar eclipse. But before we get to it, we’ve got the autumnal equinox. The equinox arrives this coming Wednesday, September 23. I t’s at 4:21 AM EDT or 1:21 AM PDT. You’ll go to sleep in summer and wake up in fall! Autumnal Equinox Facts You often hear that days and nights are equal on the equinox. Except they’re not: There’s more... more

September 10, 2015

Get ready for the … Mega-Harvest-Blood Moon Total Eclipse! It’s coming up—one of the biggest sky events of 2015. Make sure you’re sitting down, because this is a lot to handle all at once. On Sunday September 27, it’s the Harvest Moon. See September Full Moon times. This is not only the closest and largest Moon of the entire year, but also the Full Moon goes into a total lunar eclipse at the same time! And it’s visible from your front yard. Or backyard. Doesn’t matter. See lunar eclipse times... more

August 26, 2015

This week, planet Neptune hovers at its nearest to Earth for the whole year. This giant blue gas planet will also be at its brightest, with its face fully illuminated by the Sun and out all night long. The only major planet we cannot see with the naked eye, it’s actually an amazing place. Let me prove it. Neptune is the most distant planet in our Solar System—2.8 billion miles from Earth! How Neptune Was Discovered In 1845, the French astronomer Le Verrier realized that planet Uranus—discovered... more

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