Lunar Eclipse Paints Sky Red

Written by The Night Sky Guy on April 15, 2014 – 12:40 pm -

The full moon blushed in the skies above the entire Western Hemisphere this morning.

The lunar eclipse has come and gone and it was a hit and miss affair for many as some locations were clouded out in North America.  But many got great views of the moon gliding through Earth’s shadow and stunning photo opportunities presented themselves. Check out this amazingly crisp and vivid portrait of our moon while in the totality phase by Joel Tonyan in Colorado.

Check out this great gallery for more eclipse shots.  Remember the next lunar eclipse will be on October 8, 2014!  Let’s hope for clear skies.

Credit:Joel Tonyan

Credit:Joel Tonyan

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Where is the Total Lunar Eclipse Visible?

Written by The Night Sky Guy on April 14, 2014 – 6:13 am -


Here’s a wonderful map of the Earth and link for the upcoming lunar eclipse that will tell you whether it’s visible where you are (weather permitting). If you’re in any of the red zone, all or part of the eclipse will be visible to you April 14-15!

Clouded out or wrong side of the Earth during eclipse time? Then join a special LIVE webcast and watch the eclipse unfold on your laptop or mobile device.  Check back  at 11 pm EDT (Monday) for the video feed right here…  eclipse begins at 2 am EDT (06:00 UT April 15).

For a viewer’s guide please check out my previous posts and links below.

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Moon visits Saturn at Dawn

Written by The Night Sky Guy on December 18, 2011 – 12:14 pm -

Dec.19 at Dawn - click image to enlarge

Dec.19 at Dawn - click image to enlarge

On Dec.19th and Dec.20th at least a half hour before your local sunrise you can check out the the waning crescent moon tuck underneath the planet Saturn low in the southern sky.  On the 20th the pair will be closest together, separated by about 7 degrees – which is equal to about 14 full moon disks.

This may sound like a lot but to the naked eye it will be a pretty sight. Only a few days ago the Moon was hanging out with planet Mars – which BTW you can still see clearly to the far upper right of Saturn in the early mornings, shining with an orange hue.

The Saturn/moon pair will be within the Virgo constellation and in between the two there is another star – called Spica – the brightest member of Virgo and is located 263 light years from Earth. and in case you are wondering, Saturn is about 1.5 billion km distant while the moon is a mere 400,000 km from us.

Looking south at Dawn on Dec.20th the moon and Saturn make a pretty pair.

Looking south at Dawn on Dec.20th the moon and Saturn make a pretty pair.

If you have even the smallest telescope on hand then it’s worth your while to train it on Saturn and observe those magnificent rings that are titled just right so as to give a beautiful view of it’s flattened disk-like nature. The entire ring system spans about 260,000 km across – which would make the entire planet and its rings fit easily between the Earth and Moon. Look carefully and you may also see the  ringed giant’s largest moons in its vicinity – buzzing around the planet like bees around a hive.

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest in the entire Solar System – it will to the planet’s far upper right in a low magnification eyepiece view. Much closer in to Saturn (from left to right) will be icy moons Rhea, Tethys, and Dione – all of which are about the same brightness at around 10th magnitude – making them quite a bit fainter than Titan but still relatively easy to spot in 3 inch telescopes and up.

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New Night Sky episode

Written by The Night Sky Guy on October 29, 2011 – 4:20 pm -

This week’s spot highlights Jupiter’s close encounter with Earth, inner planets play peekaboo after sunset and the space station makes evening flybys. What more do you want for Halloween weekend.

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New Night Sky Episode

Written by The Night Sky Guy on January 9, 2011 – 5:41 pm -

This week highlights catching the planets Mercury, Jupiter and the Moon, as well as spotting the International Space Station above your backyard.

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See Luna’s Straight Wall Tonight

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 28, 2009 – 4:27 pm -

Every month just after the first quarter phase of the Moon, like it is tonight (Friday) is the best time to hunt down in a small telescope, one of the most striking features on the lunar surface called the Straight Wall or Rupes Recta. As the name implies, this giant 120 km long lunar fault looks like a straight dark line through the eyepiece.

The view is so dramatic right now because the rising sun is casting a long deep shadow the entire length of this steep cosmic cliff. Current estimates are that the cliff is about a 400 meter sheer drop. 


First described by 17th century astronomer Christian Huygens, the straight wall lies in the Mare Nubium and is impressive in any sized telescope you have.  

You can have another chance to see the Straight Wall during last quarter Moon when the setting sun illuminates the face of the long cliff, making it appear as a bright, white straight line – equally as dramatic.


You want to know what kind of other cool features you can track down tonight on the Moon? Check out the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Moon – a very detailed website dedicated to showing you exactly what you can see on the surface of the moon – generated for every day of the calendar.

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Posted in Solar System, The Moon | 289 Comments »

Moon and Mars’ Rival Clash Today

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 27, 2009 – 12:57 pm -

Skywatchers across eastern North America will get to watch the bright Red Giant star Antares slip behind the dark side of the quarter Moon late this afternoon at around 4:30 pm EDT. The occultation event is best seen through binoculars or a small telescope – so as to counter the wash out effect from the daytime blue sky and bright Moon.  Illustration on right shows what this kind of close encounter between the Moon and a star looks like.

For those in the western half of the continent, the lead star of the constellation Scorpius will appear to just brush by the right side of the Moon. Detailed viewing time tables available here.  Let’s cross our fingers for clear skies.

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Posted in Solar System, stars, The Moon | 140 Comments »

Lunar Close Encounters

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 14, 2009 – 3:10 pm -

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Starting tomorrow morning, the thin crescent Moon will be paying visits first to a red stellar monster, and then the gods of war and love. First off on Saturday morning high above the eastern horizon at dawn the moon will be sitting beside Aldebaran – a red giant star near the end of its life. If it were to replace our sun at the centre of our solar system the edge of Aldebaran would reach out beyond the orbit of Mars! Looking at this dying behemoth more than 65 light years away, we are looking at the future fate of our own sun 5 billion years from now when its nuclear fuel runs out.

Then on Sunday morning the Moon will have sunk to its next host – the pink-coloured star w call Mars. with our two planets separated by more than 300 million km, the Red Planet looks rather faint to the naked eye.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Amazing to think we still have two robotic rovers still bouncing around there, five years after their arrival. They are so far away that it takes 15 minutes for the radio signals from the rovers to reach us here on Earth.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Then finally on Monday and Tuesday the thinning crescent Moon will pay its respect to Venus – the hottest planet in the solar system.

Also known as the morning star, 80 million km distant Venus shines in the dawn skies as the brightest star-like object in the entire heavens.

Enjoy watching the Moon jump from one side of Venus to the other over the two days.

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Posted in Planets, Solar System, Stargazing, stars, The Moon | 166 Comments »

Moon Meets Seven Sisters

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 13, 2009 – 4:30 pm -

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Friday morning in the early dawn, two cosmic celebrities share the spotlight above the eastern horizon. The waning crescent Moon will have an extremely close encounter with the most famous of all star clusters, the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters. The odd cosmic couple will be separated by only 0.5 degrees – about one full Moon disk apart. Your best bet in seeing the 400 light year distant open star cluster next to the glare of the Moon will be to use binoculars. By Saturday morning the Moon will leave behind the cluster and move closer to the horizon and meet up with another giant of the sky. Stay tuned for more on that on Friday morning.

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Sky Giants Meet at Night

Written by The Night Sky Guy on August 5, 2009 – 2:24 pm -

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Take a peek outside your window tonight and tomorrow towards the low southeast horizon after 10 pm. The full Moon will be joined by the king of all planets, Jupiter. The gas giant will be easy to find – just look for a superbright creamy star to the lower left of the Moon tonight. By Thursday night the Moon will have jumped to the other side of the planet and will be even closer to it. Quite an eye-catching sight.

Just think that while the Moon is only 384,400 km from you, Jupiter is a whopping 780 million km away. At those distances it takes the reflected sunlight off the Moon’s surface just 1.3 seconds to reach your eye, while from Jupiter light has traveled for just over 43 minutes across interplanetary space to get to Earth. When you look at Jupiter tonight, think back what you were doing 43 minutes before – that is when the reflected sunlight off of the Jovian giant’s cloudtops left on its journey to you.

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Posted in Planets, Solar System, Stargazing, The Moon | 124 Comments »