The planet Jupiter is always one of the brightest objects in the night sky. It’s brighter than any star, and is only outshone by the planet Venus and the Moon, and, very rarely, by Mars and Mercury. Jupiter reaches a position for optimum viewing in a telescope once every 13 months, roughly, and it makes its latest closest approach to Earth on May 9, 2018 when the planet appears in the constellation Libra along the southern ecliptic. A couple of months before and after this date, Jupiter is in perfect position for viewing with a small telescope, or even a pair of binoculars. You can’t miss it: the planet is by far the brightest object in the southeastern sky. The visible face of Jupiter reveals so many interesting features in a small telescope that the planet is a favorite target for new and experienced stargazers [Read more…] about A Guide to Observing the Planet Jupiter – 2018Share This:
Here’s a short video to brighten your day. The writer and film maker Wylie Overstreet took his big 12″ Newtonian telescope into the streets of Los Angeles to show the Moon to passersby. The result? Well, see for yourself. But it’s nice to know that so many overstimulated city dwellers can still enjoy nature at its finest.
You can see a thousand pictures of the Moon, but it’s never the same experience as seeing it for yourself, especially through a good telescope. Even if you don’t know the name of a single crater or sea, the Moon’s stark beauty, the etched features and long shadows and large range of gray scale and brightness, make it one of the most appealing and accessible sights in the sky. And as more experienced stargazers know, you can get the same experience when seeing much fainter objects. With a little practice, of course.
This fine little production is a great reminder that we should look up more often. And when possible, share what you see with those around you.
The winter stars set in the southwestern sky in the mid-evening hours of late winter as seen from Northern Virginia. Here you see the stars of the constellations Canis Major, Monoceros, Orion, and Taurus, among others, as well as the Pleiades star cluster. Outreach events such as these are superb opportunities for newcomers to stargazing to learn and gain inspiration. And they help experienced stargazers hone their craft and reconnect with their passion with for the night sky.Share This:
More than most planets, Mars has captured the public imagination as a place of mystery, a target of exploration, and possibly the only other place in the solar system that may have once harbored life. The planet figured prominently in science fiction, from the early tales of E.R. Burroughs and H.G. Wells to the latest work of Andy Weir. And Mars is now on the radar of hands-on visionaries like Elon Musk who plan to colonize the planet in the coming decades. The popular fascination with Mars began more than a century ago in the fertile imagination of Percival Lowell, a wealthy and intellectually restless astronomer who speculated about intelligent life on Mars and left a lasting legacy for astronomy. [Read more…] about The Man of Mars – Percival Lowell and the Invention of the Red PlanetShare This:
The last Sunday of northern winter in 2018 brought a clear and dry night for stargazing in the Washington, D.C. area. In this image, taken from The Plains, Virginia, shows a slender crescent Moon just 3% illuminated by the Sun’s light. The Moon is joined by the two inner planets Venus (brighter, at center) and Mercury (upper right). Mercury has just passed its greatest eastern elongation and will now begin quickly moving back toward the Sun. Venus moves in the opposite direction, more languorously, as it slowly gets higher and brighter in the coming weeks.