Utah Skies

Every Tuesday at 4:48 p.m.
  • Local Host Tom Westre and Blaine Dickey

Utah Skies is a journey to the astronomical universe featuring astronomical enthusiasts Tom Westre and Blaine Dickey from the Cache Valley Astronomical Society. This weekly two minute segment can be heard Tuesday afternoons at 4:48 during All Things Considered. Clear skies!

Watch For Orion In January Skies

Jan 14, 2020
Blaine Dickey

 


 

Orion the Hunter is the brightest of the constellations and perhaps the best known. In Greek mythology, Orion is described with his dog Sirius and was known for roaming the underworld holding a bronze club. 

First Flyby Of The Sun Made By NASA Parker Probe

Jan 7, 2020
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

 


The NASA Parker Solar Probe recently made its first flyby of our Sun. It came within 24 million miles of the Sun’s surface. Try to imagine what it would be like to be that close to the Sun.

Sirius: Brightest Night Time Star

Jan 2, 2020
Sirius and Pup in the night sky.
NASA, ESA, H. Bond (STScI), and M. Barstow (University of Leicester)

 

 


Of the thousands of stars humans can see at night with our eyes alone, Sirius is the brightest star we can see. 

Sirius is also known as the Dog Star.  It lies at a distance of only 8.6 light years in the constellation Canis Major or the Big Dog. Sirius is the fifth closest star to the Earth and brighter than all of them. 

Moon and Venus Show in Evening Sky

Jan 2, 2020
The Moon and Venus in the night sky.
Abhay Kushwaha, flicker.com

 

 

As the Moon orbits the Earth, the Moon moves eastward away from the Sun in the sky and we see a little more of the sunlit side of the moon each night.  A few days after new moon, the Moon appears as a thin crescent in the western sky just after sunset.   

 

Sun Reaches Record Sunspot Low

Dec 23, 2019
A picture of the Sun with no sunspots.
Tom Westre

Over the past 300 years, astronomers have learned that the Sun goes through periods of high and low solar activity averaging about 11 years from solar minimum to solar maximum. During this period the Sun produces cooler, darker areas on the surface called sunspots which can be the size of the Earth or much larger. 

The 82 Moons Of Saturn

Dec 9, 2019
NASA

On a good clear dark night using a large amateur telescope you should be able to see the six brightest moons of Saturn, namely Titan, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Rhea and Dione. The other 76 moons are much fainter.

Sky and Telescope

As the month of November ends the planets Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon will put on a spectacular show in the southwestern evening sky just after sunset. 

Apollo 12 NASA

November 24 was the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 12, NASA’s 2nd moon-landing.  Apollo 12 landed on the moons Ocean of Storms.   The Lunar Module lander was flown by Pete Conrad and Alan Bean.  The command module pilot Richard Gordon, orbited the moon taking photographs. 

Early This Sunday Morning Is The Leonid Meteor Shower

Nov 15, 2019
Celestron Sky Portal

The Leonid Meteor shower will occur in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 17, 2019. Every 33 years this shower produces an extraordinary display. On November 17, 1966 many thousands of meteors showered down from the sky. It was estimated that the meteors fell that night at a rate of 25,000 per hour. Unfortunately, while my dad and brother were enjoying this spectacle in the sky, I was sound asleep in my bed.

One autumn evening a few years ago, a friend called me describing an object in the night sky to the northeast that caught his attention. This object was twinkling on and off, flashing in different colors and appeared to be shifting position.

Algol - 'The Demon Star'

Oct 28, 2019
Stellarium

During October and November, the constellation of Perseus rises in the evening sky to the northeast after sunset. One of most interesting stars in the fall night sky is Algol, the second brightest star after Mirfak in Perseus.

Neptune: The Eighth Planet From The Sun

Oct 17, 2019
NASA

The discovery of the planet Neptune was made partly by mathematical calculation. Scientists noticed that the motion of Uranus failed to exactly follow its predicted path across the sky. An English astronomer John Couch Adams and a French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier came to the conclusion that an undiscovered planet’s gravity must be affecting the motion of the planet Uranus. 

Wikipedia

Gennady Borisov, an amateur astronomer from Crimea, Ukraine, discovered a new object from his observatory that appears to be a comet coming from the depths of interstellar space. Unlike most comets, it does not appear to be part of our solar system. The orbit of the new object is hyperbolic in shape and is probably not bound by the gravity our sun. 

Blaine Dickey

Recently I had an extraordinary experience observing the night skies with a friend in the Grand Teton National Park. My friend Phil from Alabama set up a camera on a beach near Jackson Lake to photograph the Milky Way while my equipment consisted of a simple pair of binoculars.

Comet Africano

Sep 27, 2019

Fall officially began on September 23.  This time of year, as observers look to east after the sun sets, you see the constellations of Andromeda and Pegasus well up in the east. 

This Fall Is A Perfect Time To View Saturn

Sep 20, 2019

The night sky is full of wonderful nighttime observing objects.  From galaxies, nebula, star clusters, double stars, comets and planets.  The sky is a wonderful way to spend the evening with a telescope.

Building The Thirty-Meter International Telescope

Sep 12, 2019

When I was younger, the largest telescope in the world was the 200 inch Hale Telescope located on Palomar Mountain in Southern California. At the time it was considered that a telescope with a 200 inch mirror was about the largest practical size that any telescope could be built. It was the largest telescope in the world for over 45 years.

An Eye-Witness Account Of The Perseid Meteor Shower

Sep 12, 2019
nps.gov

Last month I spoke about the Perseid Meteor Shower that was about to peak on the night of August 11 and the morning of August 12.

Each summer a familiar shape appears high in the eastern sky that is worth taking a look at. Three bright stars form a large easy to see V shape in the sky called the Summer Triangle. Each bright star of the Summer Triangle is also associated with a well-known constellation that is easy to recognize.

The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower is now underway and is predicted to reach its peak on the early morning of Tuesday, August 13. During the meteor shower an average of 60 meteors per hour can be seen. Many of them are bright, leaving trails across the sky. They can be seen radiating like spokes of a wheel from a central point in the constellation Perseus. Fireballs are often associated with this meteor shower.

Wikipedia

When you look up at a clear, dark night sky without any light pollution, you should be able to see as many as 2,000 or more stars.  That is a small portion of the 200 billion stars that make up our Milky Way Galaxy.  

Wikipedia

Our Milky Way galaxy contains at least 200 billion stars and is thought to be at least 100,000 lightyears in diameter.  For amateur astronomers, globular clusters are one of the most favorite objects to observe.  These are giant spherical collections of stars that orbit just outside our Milky Way galaxy.  

Apollo 11 Moon Landing's 50th Anniversary

Jul 17, 2019
NASA

On July 20, 1969 two Americans, Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon. Six hours later Armstrong was the first person to step onto the lunar surface. At that historic moment he spoke the famous words, “That’s one small step for man, One giant leap for mankind.” 

Total Eclipse Of The Moon

Jul 9, 2019

On January 20th of this year we experienced a total eclipse of the moon in Cache Valley. Unfortunately it was mostly cloudy and quite cold that evening so you may not have made the effort to look. But fortunately there were enough breaks in the clouds that some amateur astronomers including myself were able to take images of it.

NASA

When a person looks through my telescope at the moon, I often hear comments something like, wow that’s amazing or you have to come and see this! When you look at the moon with the naked eye about all you can see are some gray and white markings on the surface of the moon but little else. That experience completely changes when you look at the moon through a quality telescope.

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