This Week's Amazing Sky

November 23, 2021
Some things just don't belong together, like the Three Stooges at an art opening. Yet this month, planetariums around the country try to blend religion and science by presenting their annual Star of Bethlehem show.  I take both religion and science seriously. In and of itself, the mixing of science and religion is shaky, but it can be helpful in specific cases; science should be…
November 19, 2021
When is the earliest sunset of the year? Many folks think it's on the winter solstice. But the darkest days are actually now—in early December! Bob Berman explains this phenomenon. To most of us in North America, this is a dark time of year and the sunsets come exceedingly early. It might surprise you to learn that the earliest sunsets come several weeks before the winter solstice, not on the…
November 16, 2021
Finally—a lunar eclipse worth setting the alarm for! We're talking about a nearly total lunar eclipse (97% coverage!) on November 18–19, 2021. Wait until you see it—brightly lit polar cap on an otherwise red sphere. Get times and info on how to see it from Bob Berman. This lunar eclipse is especially welcome because in the past few years we’ve had a bizarre series of penumbral lunar eclipses—the…
November 2, 2021
Ever noticed that you can sometimes see the part of the Moon that isn't lit up? The dark portion of the Moon (the area unlit by the Sun) seemed to glow. This phenomena is aptly known as Earthshine. Historically, this is called “the new Moon in the old Moon’s arms.” Learn more about earthshine. What is Earthshine? When you can see the dark unlit portion of the crescent Moon (the area unlit by…
October 29, 2021
A near-total eclipse of the Moon happens on November 19. Some folks are calling it a “Blood Moon.” There’s boatloads of celestial hype about this phenomenon. We'll help you separate fact from fiction. What Is a Blood Moon? November 19, 2021, brings a near-total lunar eclipse visible from most of North America. The Moon will be 98% obscured at during this eclipse, so while it won't…
October 28, 2021
If you heard an "80% chance of rain," would you assume that this meant that you had an 80% chance of getting rained on? Not true. Bob Berman explains what a "chance of rain" really means! If you're a sky watcher like yours truly, the first step in observing the sky is having decent weather. We probably all check the forecast from time to time. But relatively few of us know how to make…
October 19, 2021
This year, the full Hunter's Moon rises on Wednesday, October 20! This is one of the two full Moons that enjoy an official astronomical name. So, will it be bigger, brighter, and redder? Here's all you need to know! What Is the Hunter's Moon? People like objects to have names. While the full Moon is always recognizable—and indeed the only phase that's out all night long—…
September 30, 2021
Got five minutes? The Moon is currently thin or absent, so the sky is nice and dark. There’s cool stuff to see and it’s all very easy to find. I'll show you 7 stars and planets in just a few minutes. When a living room appears in the movies, we often see a telescope near the window. This tells us that it’s a common thing to possess—a decoration, a bit of modern decor. Yet few of our friends can…
September 28, 2021
It’s not well known, but autumn has the year’s darkest skies. Since there are now fewer brilliant stars than at any other time, many will marvel at two ultra-bright "stars." What are they? Oddly, this is a period when many report these dazzling beacons as UFOs.  Autumn begins night sky season. It gets dark earlier at night and the night temperatures are still comfortable. …
September 23, 2021
It's an annual autumn ritual: The reappearance of Pleiades, the glorious "Seven Sisters." Around Halloween, they always rise in the east before 7 PM and are nicely up after 8 PM. Learn more about the Pleiades—and their connection to All Hallows' Eve. The Pleiades is a tightly packed cluster of stars. There's nothing else like it. No obstetrician attended the birth of the Pleiades, 60…
September 13, 2021
On Tuesday, September 14, planet Neptune reaches its closest approach to us for the year. Why should we care about the only planet that cannot be seen with the naked eye? Well, if size matters, then it deserves attention on that basis alone, since it’s such an enormous blue ball, 58 planet Earths could fit inside it. Discover the "other" blue planet. Discovering Neptune We really should start…
September 9, 2021
Can you balance an egg on the autumnal equinox? Does the Sun rise due east and set due west for all of us on Earth? Why did the date of the equinox change? How is it related to the Harvest Moon? Bob separates autumnal equinox facts from fiction. We have an equinox coming up on Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Read all about the Autumnal Equinox! There are a number of questions and…