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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New Moon is a Good Time to View Andromeda

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 21, 2014 – 9:19 am -

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Take advantage of the new moon skies and glimpse this giant spiral, Andromeda.

It’s a great time to view Andromeda galaxy as the new moon brings darker skies on November 22.

Known to be the faintest celestial object that can be seen with the naked eye Andromeda, or M31, can be spotted in the northeastern evening skies. Look for the lopsided, W-shaped constellation, Cassiopeia, “the queen” as it points directly to the galaxy. Try to find a dark location, away from light pollution and to glimpse the faint, fuzzy patch measured to be at a brightness of 3.4-magnitude.

Use the constellation, Cassiopeia to point the way to find the Andromeda galaxy.

Use the constellation, Cassiopeia to point the way to find the Andromeda galaxy.

Viewers can easily see the 2.6 million light-year distant Andromeda by using binoculars or a small telescope within city limits. Through a scope, the galaxy can be seen as an elongated oval patch and two much smaller ovals beside it. These are dwarf elliptical galaxies that orbit the star-filled, spiral giant.

Andromeda is the largest of our neighbouring galaxies and has at least 300 billion suns, making it about three times larger than the Milky Way.

For more information about this or other celestial events, visit my National Geographic blog, StarStruck.


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Mercury Meets the Moon

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 19, 2014 – 3:59 pm -

By dawn on Friday, November 21, the moon will have shrunk to a razor-thin crescent even closer to the southeast horizon and will park itself near the planet Mercury.
This will be a challenge for viewers since the pair will be less than ten degrees above the horizon 30 minutes before local sunrise. Best views will be from southern latitudes using binoculars to cut through dawn’s glare.
30 minutes before the sunrises, check the southeastern horizon and viewers can enjoy Mercury/Moon meeting.

30 minutes before the sunrises, check the southeastern horizon and viewers can enjoy Mercury/Moon meeting.

As the razor-thin moon shrinks to a razor-thin crescent and approaches the southeastern horizon, it will meet up with the planet Mercury.

Early risers will be treated to this pairing about 30 minutes before the sun rises on the morning of November 21. They will appear to be less than ten degrees above the horizon. Viewers can best see this event through binoculars from the southern latitudes.

For more information about these and other upcoming celestial events, visit my National Geographic blog, StarStruck.


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