It’s the most frequently asked question in amateur astronomy. Here, an astronomer offers some guidance.
This Sunday night, December 13, we’ll see the year’s finest meteor shower. These are the Geminids and they deliver a meteor a minute.
I’m periodically asked if I’ve seen evidence among the stars of a Creator. I always dodge such questions, directed my way for over 30 years. They arise because many, when searching for the Big Picture in this huge confusing universe, think astronomers may have a heightened perspective of what’s going on.
Many feel ‘downbeat’ starting around now, with a strange heaviness striking a large minority of the population in November. Its underlying mechanisms are fascinating.
This is a good time because the moon is absent this weekend. And there’s a bunch of cool stuff to see and it’s all very easy to find. I’ll prove it.
If you know any skeptics regarding carbon dioxide, or who are not freaked by the earth’s still-new milestone of hitting 400 parts per million, just point upward any night, and show them how it operates elsewhere in the universe.
Unlike this spring and most of the summer, all four of the classic bright planets are now hovering close to their maximum possible brilliance. But just to make things unnecessarily easy, the moon is about to highlight each one by hovering alongside it.
Jupiter came closest to our planet arth just a month ago, so it will continue to dominate the sky the rest of the summer and fall. Jove is in Sagittarius, but its brilliant presence really has the look of a dazzling star just above a teapot. We could tell you it’s low in the southeast, but such directions are overkill. Simply look around the sky any time after nightfall and find the very brightest star. It’s astronomy made simple.
When we reach the nights of August 11 and 12, we will see a meteor every two minutes or so, especially if we’re away from the lights of town. But there’s a secret sinister untold story behind these lovely shooting stars. It involves their origins.
It’s the best comet since Hale-Bopp graced our skies in 1996. And it’s easy to find. From any location with an unobstructed view toward the northwest – just right of where the sun set – look about a quarter of the way up the sky at 10 p.m..