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!

Utah Skies: Venus Passes Mars

Jul 16, 2021

This week after the sun sets and if you have a good view of the western evening sky you will see two planets, Venus and Mars, very close to one another. This type of event is called a conjunction. If you have a pair of binoculars or even a small telescope you will get a memorable view of these celestial objects.

Utah Skies: Star Clusters

Jul 7, 2021
Dell Vance

High concentrations of stars viewed in binoculars or a telescope are always exciting to see. These sometimes appear as star clusters. There are two main types of star clusters—open clusters and globular clusters.

Utah Skies: Viewing The Milky Way This Summer

Jun 29, 2021
Bruce Horrocks

With the long days and warm nights, summer is a great time to get out and enjoy the stars and see our own Milky Way Galaxy. Our solar system is just one of the hundreds of billions in our galaxy and is located about halfway between the center and the edge of the Milky Way. 

Utah Skies: The Summer Solstice

Jun 25, 2021
Bruce Horrocks

The Summer Solstice is an event in the Northern Hemisphere that marks the official start of summer. Normally this happens on June 21, but this year this event occurred on June 20 at 9:32 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. People will often refer to the Summer Solstice as the longest day of the year. While technically all days are the same length, we generally are referring to that this is the summer day with the most amount of daylight hours and the shortest about of nighttime. 

Utah Skies: Camping, S’mores, And Stars

Jun 2, 2021

June. The days are getting longer, and the nights are getting shorter. For the darkest skies you need to wait at least 90 minutes after sundown. With sun set at about 9:00 PM MDT, that means the darker skies appear about 10:30 PM. To have very dark skies it is best to have a moonless night (this can be before the moon rises or after it sets) and a site that is away from city lights. Utah has many recreational areas that have great dark skies. Many National Parks in Utah have Dark Sky Status and are great for stargazing.

Utah Skies: Moon Meets Spica

May 25, 2021
Stellarium Software

This past week the moon has moved near the planets Venus, Mercury, and Mars. Wednesday the moon’s phase will be first quarter. By the evening of Saturday and Sunday the waxing gibbous Moon will pass the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, called Spica. 

Utah Skies: Super Moon And Solar Eclipse

May 25, 2021
Bruce Horrocks

On Tuesday, we will have the opportunity to see the third supermoon of this year. In combination with this full moon is the first and only total lunar eclipse for the year. A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth’s position is between the sun and the moon and therefore able to cast its shadow on the moon. As this eclipse progresses, it will change the color of the moon from its normal greyish appearance to an orange or reddish color.

Utah Skies: Crescent Moon Meets Three Planets

May 24, 2021
Tom Westre

As the moon orbits Earth we see the different phases it goes through during the month. From the new moon to the full moon the illuminated crescent grows in size each day, this is called a waxing moon. From full moon to new moon the illuminated area grows smaller and is known as a waning moon.

Utah Skies: Viewing Mercury In May

May 6, 2021
Dell Vance

On May 4, just after sundown, Mercury will be just above the West-Northwest horizon. It will be a very bright Magnitude of -0.8. Just a couple of degrees north of Mercury, the Pleiades (also known as the Seven Sisters) will be dim, but visible. The Pleiades will be easier to see with binoculars. As the month proceeds, Venus will be joining Mercury in the early evening sky. They will be closest on May 17.

April Astronomical Events

May 4, 2021
Bruce Horrocks

This last week of April will bring a couple of astronomical events that will be worth watching. The first of these will be the Lyrid Meteor Shower. 

April Astronomical Events

May 4, 2021
Bruce Horrocks

This last week of April will bring a couple of astronomical events that will be worth watching. The first of these will be the Lyrid Meteor Shower. 

Utah Skies: April Astronomical Events To Watch

Apr 26, 2021
Bruce Horrocks

This last week of April will bring a couple of astronomical events that will be worth watching. The first of these will be the Lyrid Meteor Shower.  This will happen from April 16 to the 25, with the peak of the shower activity happening from April 22 to the 23.  The Lyrids is one of the oldest meteor showers and is named after the constellation Lyra.  Look to the east for the bright star Vega to have the best possible viewing during this week.

Utah Skies: Moons Of Our Solar System

Apr 15, 2021
Dell Vance

April 7, 2021, just before sunrise, Saturn, Jupiter, and a crescent Moon will be visible in the east southeast. The highest bright object is Saturn. Saturn has 82 known moons. Saturn has the most moons in the Solar System. Titan, the second largest moon in the Solar System, is Saturn’s largest moon. It is usually far enough away from Saturn that it is easy to see in most telescopes. In larger telescopes you may even see the smaller moon Rhea.

Utah Skies: Leo’s Sickle And Planets

Apr 15, 2021
Tom Westre

With the vernal equinox comes warmer weather and longer days which draws us to the great outdoors. For night-time sky watchers spring brings many new constellations. From late March through June six major constellations are seen in the spring night sky.

Utah Skies: March's Full Moon

Mar 31, 2021

March’s Full Moon is known as the Worm Moon in the Traditional Farmer’s Almanac. It was believed that this is the time of year that the earthworms appear as the soil starts to warm up.

Utah Skies: Galaxies

Mar 22, 2021
Bruce Horrocks

Springtime is galaxy season for astronomers. As the days grow longer the night sky offers an opportunity to observe a wide selection of some of the best galaxies to be seen.

Utah Skies: Hyades And Aldebaran

Mar 17, 2021
Stellarium app

During the March evenings, the Hyades star cluster and the star Aldebaran are seen in the southwestern skies after sunset. This cluster is easy to see in the evening sky due to its unique V shape. The V shape is part of the constellation Taurus the Bull. 

Utah Skies: Mars Passes The Pleiades

Mar 10, 2021
Tom Westre

The most famous of all star clusters is the Pleiades Cluster, better known as the Seven Sisters. This beautiful group of stars lies in the constellation Taurus the Bull.

Utah Skies: Mars Passes The Pleiades

Mar 10, 2021

The most famous of all star clusters is the Pleiades Cluster, better known as the Seven Sisters. This beautiful group of stars lies in the constellation Taurus the Bull.

Dell Vance

The Milky Way Galaxy is a spiral galaxy with several arms. Our solar system is located in one of the smaller arms, the Orion Arm. In the wintertime evening sky, the Milky Way runs from Cassiopeia to a position just east of Orion. The Milky Way can be easily found by locating Sirius, the Dog Star, and Procyon. The Orion Arm of the Milky Way lies between these two stars.

Utah Skies: Telescopes And The Future

Feb 24, 2021
Bruce Horrocks

In the summer of 1968, my father and I went to a neighbor’s house to look through a new telescope he had just purchased. I was eight-years-old and with the United States in the heat of the space race, I was fascinated with both rockets and telescopes. I remember that night looking though this new telescope and seeing the planet Saturn with it rings for the first time in my life. I was hooked, and I knew right then what I wanted for Christmas that year and thankfully Santa placed a new Sears telescope under the tree for me and my father to enjoy for many years to come.

Utah Skies: Perseverance Lands On Mars

Feb 23, 2021
NASA

About every two years Earth and Mars are aligned in their orbits so that a space mission can be sent to Mars at the most opportune time. That alignment took place during July 2020 when NASA launched the large robotic rover called Perseverance to Mars. After a 300 million  mile journey, Perseverance landed on Mars on Feb. 18. Another Mars adventure begins on the Red Planet.

Utah Skies: Clyde Tombaugh and Pluto

Feb 23, 2021
Dell Vance

Clyde Tombaugh, as a young man, built his own Telescopes and made sketches of Mars and Jupiter. In 1929 he sent his sketches to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The staff was impressed with his work and offered him a job as a researcher on a project to find Planet X.

Utah Skies: Proxima Centauri Radio Waves?

Feb 13, 2021
NASA Hubble Space Telescope

Over the last twenty years or so, astronomers have detected over 4,000 planets orbiting other star systems. Our Milky Way galaxy may have billions of planets orbiting other stars. It’s a goal to find earth-sized planets orbiting their stars in what is called the habitable zone, or that distance from their parent star where any water on the planet is liquid. 

Utah Skies: Three Mars Missions In February

Feb 13, 2021
NASA/JPT/Cal Tech

Mars has been the center for the search for life in our solar system since the first US Viking lander in 1976. Since that time dozens of unmanned missions have been sent to Mars by the US or Russia as orbiters, landers or rovers.

Utah Skies: Orion

Jan 26, 2021

The constellation Orion is certainly one of the most recognized objects in the winter sky. In the middle star that forms the sword of Orion, we find the mighty Orion Nebula. Charles Messier included this in his catalog of deep space objects, and it is known as M42.

Utah Skies: The Moon, Mars, Uranus

Jan 26, 2021
Stellarium App

On Jan. 5 the planet Mars entered the small constellation of Aries the Ram. Mars is bright and easy to locate in the evening skies. Mars will continue to move eastward during January. 

Utah Skies: The Moon, Jupiter And Mercury

Jan 13, 2021
Stellarium Planetarium App

During the past few months sky watchers have been treated with an evening planetary show compliments of Jupiter and Saturn. Because Saturn is farther away from Jupiter, Jupiter’s orbit is

Utah Skies: Orion In January

Jan 13, 2021
Stellarium App

Orion is one of the brightest constellations in the January skies. It represents a famous hunter who often bragged about his hunting prowess. Mother Earth became concerned about Orion’s destroying all the predators so she placed a giant scorpion with heavy armor for protection near Orion. The giant scorpion was able to sting Orion causing his death. The gods immortalized Orion and placed him among the stars. The scorpion was also placed among the stars, but only to be seen six months later in summer skies. 

Utah Skies: The Great Conjunction of 2020

Dec 22, 2020
NASA/JPL-Caltech

In astronomy a conjunction is when two or more planets come very close to each other in the sky because their orbits line up with the Earth’s orbit. On December 21, we will be treated with not only a conjunction of two planets, but a great conjunction. Just after the sun sets the planets Jupiter and Saturn will appear so close to each other they will appear to the human eye to be one bright planet.

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