This Week's Amazing Sky

January 26, 2021
Groundhog Day. Just a bizarre tradition involving a marmot, right? Actually, Groundhog Day is based in astronomy and full of amazing sky-related stuff. Let’s have some shadow fun! The Midpoint of Winter  If you count the days between winter’s start on the December solstice (December 21, 2020), and the beginning of spring on the March equinox (March 20, 2021),…
January 1, 2021
Welcome to 2021—a year full of spectacular astronomical events! What stargazing and sky watching events should you keep an eye out for? Here are our top picks of the year, including two great meteor showers, a three-planet conjunction, and a supermoon lunar eclipse! Take a look… The year 2020 was one of the strangest of our lives. But for those who took solace in the heavens, it was…
December 29, 2020
Want a cosmic way to ring in the New Year? On New Year’s Eve, the brightest star visible from our planet, Sirius, reaches its highest point in the sky as the clock strikes midnight (or, near to it). Spot Sirius in the New Year Sky Simply step outdoors on New Year’s Eve as local midnight approaches, then look toward the south and you’ll easily see the…
December 11, 2020
The most active meteor shower of the year peaks the night of Sunday, December 13. These are the Geminids, the sky’s “Old Faithful.” Their trustworthy, one‑a‑minute frequency has created reliable December sparklers for the past century. Meteors by the Dark of the Moon In 2020, the Geminids will peak on Sunday night, December 13, into Monday morning, December 14. This year,…
December 2, 2020
A rare, spectacular sky event is about to unfold: the greatest conjunction ever! It will be more impressive than the usual celestial headliners, like lunar eclipses and Mercury transits. And it will be visible around the world. On the very day of the solstice, December 21, 2020, Jupiter will come as close to Saturn as Jove’s own moons! When Jupiter and Saturn—the two biggest planets…
November 2, 2020
If you’ve spent many years observing the Moon, you’ll know all its phases. Perhaps you even have a favorite Moon phase—whether it’s the slim crescent or a fully-illuminated disk. But let’s focus on an upcoming Moon phase that’s least familiar yet most full of wonders. Can you guess what it is?  The last week of October offered astronomy headlines. We had a Full Moon…
October 29, 2020
When you’re looking at a Moon that’s half-illuminated—like half a pie—why is it called a “Quarter Moon” instead of a “Half Moon”? Seems confusing, right? Bob Berman defines the Quarter Moon—and explains why it’s the most interesting Moon phase in his eyes. Let’s take a closer look at the beautiful Quarter Moon. Why Do We Call It the Quarter Moon? We…
October 13, 2020
At last, Mars’s great opposition is upon us—October 13, 2020! This week, the Red Planet will appear bigger and brighter than it will be in years. Not only is Mars brighter than any star in the sky, it’s even brighter than Jupiter, which is unusual. Moreover, Jupiter is 22 times bigger than Mars in terms of diameter! And more than twice as shiny. See viewing details. For the last couple…
September 11, 2020
The Moon meets all four of the most brilliant and easily-seen planets this week and next. See Bob’s post for viewing tips. Plus, for all you Moon lovers, let’s answer why the Moon rides high or runs low in the sky? What does this mean and why does it happen? Find out from Almanac astronomer Bob Berman.  The Moon Meets Each Planet We are now enjoying a jewel box of…
August 7, 2020
One of the year’s best meteor showers—the Perseids—is now under way. It starts with just a few extra shooting stars per hour, and when we reach the nights of August 11 and 12, we will see a meteor every 2 minutes or so. But the comet behind these lovely shooting stars is what we should really be talking about! Meteors are tiny specks of debris that have fallen off a comet. Most…
July 20, 2020
Comet NEOWISE has switched to become a more easily-viewed evening comet. Don’t miss it! Here’s how to see Comet Neowise, including where and when to see the comet in the night sky. This week, the clouds finally cleared to let us view comet NEOWISE. Wow! It’s the best we’ve seen in the past 24 years. Unless you live in the far south, you can easily find and observe this…
July 18, 2020
Both Jupiter and Saturn will be big and bright in July, 2020! Next up is Saturn is at “opposition” to the Sun on the 20th. This is some amazing, easy backyard stargazing—no charts needed!  Here are details on when to watch the planets from Almanac astronomer Bob Berman. During the month of July, 2020, go out any night you’re in the mood and you’re in for a treat!…