Moon Caresses Eye of Bull

Written by The Night Sky Guy on February 24, 2015 – 5:16 pm -

Aldebaran and the Moon make a celestial portrait, Wednesday evening.

Aldebaran and the Moon make a celestial portrait, Wednesday evening.

As the moon moves through the constellation Taurus, by Wednesday, February 25, it will be paired with the red eye of Taurus, the star, Aldebaran.

Visually, the red giant star will be parked just about a half of a degree from the quarter moon making for a stunning portrait, however, the moon is only about 1.27 light seconds away from Earth, Aldebaran lies about 66 light-years distant.

For more about this and other celestial events, check out my National Geographic column, StarStruck.


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Morning Mercury

Written by The Night Sky Guy on February 24, 2015 – 3:43 pm -

Watch Mercury rise before the sun on Wednesday, February 25 for Southern Hemisphere Observers

Watch Mercury rise before the sun on Wednesday, February 25 for Southern Hemisphere Observers

Wednesday, February 24 will feature the closest planet to our Sun, Mercury.

Folks in the Southern Hemisphere will be treated to the best views of the rocky planet for the year. Just 30 minutes before the sun rises, Mercury will climb to 20 degrees above the eastern horizon. To the naked eye, Mercury will appear as a faint dot, but will stand out well against the sun’s glare when viewed through binoculars. Happy Viewing, Early Risers!

For more of this week’s sky events, check out my National Geographic column, StarStruck!


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Moon Trios with Taurus Clusters

Written by The Night Sky Guy on February 23, 2015 – 11:06 pm -

Skywatchers are treated to a trio of beauties - the waxing moon, Pleiades cluster & Hyades cluster

Skywatchers are treated to a trio of beauties - the waxing moon, Pleiades cluster & Hyades cluster

On Tuesday, February 24, the swelling crescent trios with two bright star clusters.

Nestled in the Taurus constellation are a couple of stunning star clusters, the Pleiades and Hyades. This makes for a brilliant grouping as the moon passes through the constellation of the bull. While the moon sits at 384,000 km away, the Pleiades is 300 light years away, and the Hyades 160 light years distant.


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The Moon Helps to Find The Crab

Written by The Night Sky Guy on January 29, 2015 – 2:35 pm -

The faint Crab Nebula is a remnant of a Super Nova observed 1054 A.D. Try seeing it on Friday, January 30 when the moon will help guide the way.

The faint Crab Nebula is a remnant of a Supernova observed 1054 A.D. Try seeing it on Friday, January 30 when the moon will help guide the way.

As the waxing gibbous moon continues its journey through the Taurus constellation, it stops by the tip of one of its horns.

This star known as Zeta Tau acts as a convenient guidepost to the beautiful Crab Nebula. This web of tangle of colours is the best known examples of a supernova remnant, the glowing ashes of a shattered star. The supernova was noted in the year 1054 A.D. by Japanese and Chinese astronomers.

Also known as Messier 1, this faint nebula will be about five degrees to the right of the moon, less that the width of three middle fingers held at arm’s length. M1 shines at about magnitude 9 making it just visible through binocular but an easy target for even small telescopes.

For more information about this celestial event and more, check out my StarStuck Blog at the National Geographic Web Site.


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Moon Marks Eye of Bull

Written by The Night Sky Guy on January 28, 2015 – 2:35 pm -

Moon next to Aldebaran, Thursday, January 29.

Moon next to Aldebaran, Thursday, January 29.

Thursday, January 29, the moon will slide close to Aldebaran, the star that marks the eye of the bull.

This red giant is a dying star that is about 65 light-years from Earth. Imagine that the light that we see today left the star in 1950 when Harry Truman ordered the development of the first hydrogen bomb and the Korean War broke out.

For more information about this celestial event and more, check out my StarStuck Blog at the National Geographic Web Site.


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Comet Lovejoy Passes Orion

Written by The Night Sky Guy on January 6, 2015 – 5:38 pm -

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Catch the comet near Orion on Wednesday, January 7th.

Comet Lovejoy has been gracing our holiday skies will brighten in the coming days. As this greenish comet glows brighter, it will appear to pass Rigel, a bright star in the Orion constellation.

Hunt down this icy visitor just after night fall on Wednesday, January 7. It is now the closest it will get to the Earth at 70 million kilometres away and appear to brighten from 5th to 4th magnitude.

For more information about this celestial event and more, check out my National Geographic Starstruck column.


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Moon, Jupiter and Regulus

Written by The Night Sky Guy on January 6, 2015 – 5:38 pm -

The moon and Jupiter will pair up while the star Regulus will help form a cosmic triangle.

The moon and Jupiter will pair up while the star Regulus will help form a cosmic triangle.

Three beauties will form a celestial triangle in the sky late night on Wednesday, January 7.

The waning gibbous moon will be parked right next to Jupiter only separated by 5 degrees, that’s the width of your three middle fingers held at arm’s length. Forming the last point of the triangle is Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo.

For more information about this celestial event and more, check out my National Geographic Starstruck column.


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Jupiter – Moon – Regulus Triangle

Written by The Night Sky Guy on December 10, 2014 – 2:10 pm -

December 11 will feature a trio of bright objects that form a triangle in the sky.

December 11 will feature a trio of bright objects that form a triangle in the sky.

The moon, Jupiter and the bright star Regulus will come together to form a cosmic trio on Thursday, December 11.

Face the rising moon and you will be looking right at the constellation Leo, the lion. The moon will be marking the lion’s heart while the brightest star in the constellation will be Regulus. Just above the moon will be creamy-white Jupiter. While the moon is a little more than a light second distant, Jupiter is 40 light minutes away and Regulus sits 79 light years away from Earth.

Through small telescopes, skywatchers will be able to spy four of Jupiter’s moons, coined as the Galilean moons as Galileo is first discovered them in 1610. These seeming points of light will be lined up like ducks beside the King of the Planets. Viewers can train small telescopes onto the giant planet and maybe able to make out cloud rings and the Big Red Spot – a hurricane three times as large as the Earth!

For more information about this and many other astronomical events, visit my National Geographic Starstruck blog.


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Moon Points to Diamonds

Written by The Night Sky Guy on December 9, 2014 – 4:23 pm -

M67 will be only 1 degree away from the moon, December 10.

M67 will be only 1 degree away from the moon, December 10.

The moon will be pointing to an open star cluster in the Crab constellation.

On Wednesday, December 10, Messier 67 (M67) will appear to be only one degree from the moon. That is about the width of your thumb at arm’s length. While lying about 3000 light years from Earth, this cluster shines at magnitude 6.1 and is about as wide as the full moon which makes it an easy target for binoculars. Through a telescope, the hundreds of stars will appear to be in clumps and chains.

For more information about this or more astronomical events, visit my National Geographic Starstruck blog.


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A Two Moon Eclipse for Jupiter

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 21, 2014 – 4:07 pm -

In the early morning hours of November 23, check out moon Io cover its brother Europa, two of Jupiter's satellites.

In the early morning hours of November 23, check out moon Io cover its brother Europa, two of Jupiter's satellites.

Starting at 2:16 a.m. EST of November 23, skywatchers will be in for a treat, an lunar eclipse on Jupiter.

Through even the smallest of backyard telescopes, the moon of Io will cover or occult its brother moon, Europa for just a few minutes. The event will take place just off the eastern limb of Jupiter.

Locate Jupiter next to the constellation Leo’s bright star Regulus in the southeastern sky. Happy Hunting!

For more information about this celestial event and others, visit my National Geographic blog, StarStruck.


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