Titantic Twister on the Sun Spotted by NASA Satellite

Written by The Night Sky Guy on March 30, 2012 – 5:36 pm -

A monster “tornado” big enough to swallow a hundred Earths has been spied on the sun, according to astronomers who analyzed recent images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Known as solar prominences, such tornado-like structures have been observed on the sun for decades. But the latest solar twister is one of the biggest yet seen—and likely the first to be filmed in high-resolution at multiple wavelengths.

Check out the rest of my story and amazing videos of these solar storms at National Geographic News.


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Rocket Chem Trails Light Up Sky

Written by The Night Sky Guy on March 27, 2012 – 4:34 pm -

Credit: Mark A. Brown, Carlisle, PA, USA

Sometimes some of the more interesting sights in the heavens are not natural but artificial. High flying satellites come to mind at first but rocket trails also make for impressive objects too.  That’s exactly what happened this week.

After many delays NASA shot off 5 unmanned rockets off the east coast of North America early Tuesday in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the dynamics of the upper atmosphere. It appears to not only have been a scientific success but also a great photo op for skywatchers too.

Read the rest of my story at National Geographic News.


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Shots of the Sunset Show this Week

Written by The Night Sky Guy on March 27, 2012 – 11:28 am -

In Montreal,  Canada, where I am based skies are about 60% cloudy so chances are usually that I miss an astronomical event but this week I have been blessed with some clear skies and managed to catch at least some of the planet-moon show going on in the western sky at sunset.  Here are a couple of my attempts at capturing the cosmic beauty of the Venus-moon conjunction of March 26, 2012.

Venus visible to the naked eye during daytime above crescent Moon. This shot was taken 3 hours before sunset. credit: Andrew Fazekas

Venus visible to the naked eye during daytime above crescent Moon. This shot was taken 3 hours before sunset. credit: Andrew Fazekas

On Marc.26th the crescent moon snuggles with Venus while Jupiter sits below the pair. THe sky show was easily seen from light polluted Montreal suburb. credit: Andrew Fazekas

On Mar.26 the crescent moon snuggles with Venus while Jupiter sits below the pair. THhe sky show was easily seen from light polluted Montreal suburb. credit: Andrew Fazekas

On Mar.26 while Venus is in conjunction with our moon, skywatchers could eaisly see Earthlight light up the dark part of the moon's disk- called Earthshine. credit: Andrew Fazekas

On Mar.26 while Venus is in conjunction with our moon, skywatchers could eaisly see Earthlight light up the dark part of the moon's disk- called Earthshine. credit: Andrew Fazekas


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Moon and Planets in Final Dance

Written by The Night Sky Guy on March 24, 2012 – 5:48 pm -

Throughout March the brightest planets in the heavens, Venus and Jupiter, have been putting on a great planetary play high in the west just after sunset. A couple of weeks ago they came stunningly close to each other – appearing side by side in the sky, and now as they slowly drift apart they have a grand finale in store for skywatcher- with the moon joining in on the  fun too!

This cosmic get-together is a great opportunity not only to snap some stunning photos but also to teach kids about the universe around us. And if you have a telescope hanging around, then by all means take it out and point it at these planets. The moon will act as a convenient guidepost if you have never been able before to find Venus or Jupiter. And believe me the views are awesome with the moons and clouds of Jupiter easily visible through any sized telescope

To know where and when to get the best views of this sky event from March 25 to 27 read the rest of my article at National Geographic News.


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New Night Sky episode online

Written by The Night Sky Guy on March 11, 2012 – 12:44 pm -

The two brightest planets visible in the night sky, Jupiter and Venus, have been putting on quite a show this past month as they have been slowly getting closer together in the western sky just after sunset.
But the best is yet to come as the two worlds reach what astronomers call conjunction – the closest they can appear in the sky together – from March 9 to 15.

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Venus and Jupiter Close Encounter Now

Written by The Night Sky Guy on March 11, 2012 – 12:36 pm -

If you have been watching the early evening skies at all in the last few weeks you probably noticed the two superbright ‘stars’ in the west are drawing closer together by the day.  Two of the most brilliant planets in our solar system, Venus and Jupiter, are about to get a lot more cozy in the heavens.

The main event will be from March 12 to 15 when the two worlds will come closest together in the sky.

To get a full observers guide read the rest of my article on National Geographic News


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Solar Storm Update

Written by The Night Sky Guy on March 9, 2012 – 2:36 pm -

Two solar flares up that erupted on the sun Tuesday didn’t cause quite the storm that was expected.
Some experts believe the threat from the solar storm has passed, but space weather forecasters say it’s still too early to tell.
There is a chance that the storm’s effects could continue and intensify through Friday morning, early into Saturday morning.

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Best Views of Mars Now for 2012

Written by The Night Sky Guy on March 5, 2012 – 11:19 am -

The Red Planet is making its closest approach to Earth this week so this means it is the best time for skywatchers to get out their telescopes and view surface features on the planet’s disk.

Mars is rising in the east after sunset and riding high in the south by midnight making it an opportune time to watch details like sand storms and polar caps.

For more details on how to check out Mars for yourself read my National Geographic News viewer’s guide.


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