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!

Venus Reaches Greatest Separation From The Sun

Mar 30, 2020
Venus visible in the night sky
Cache Valley Astronomical Society

This spring, sky watchers have enjoyed the evening show provided by the 2nd planet from the Sun, Venus. It’s easy to spot in the western sky, as the “evening star”, after the sunsets.

Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, And Moon Conjunction

Mar 18, 2020
A graphic showing the conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon.
Celestron Sky Portal App

A beautiful conjunction will occur tomorrow morning March 18th at 6:00 AM in the Southeastern skies of Utah. The crescent moon will be within a few degrees of the planets Jupiter and Mars. Not to be left out is Saturn situated just 6 degrees to the east. It is not often that you see these four celestial objects so closely associated together in the sky. It is definitely worth taking a look. Jupiter, Mars, and the moon should be visible together in a pair of binoculars.

 

Audio Pending...

Leo The Lion

Mar 12, 2020
Leo the Lion constellation
Sky Portal

Leo the Lion is one of the most recognized constellations in the Sky. It is now rising in the East in the early evening and marks a transition between the winter and spring seasons. The shape of the constellation Leo forms a pattern that resembles a Lion. Leo also contains an easy to see asterism that looks like a hook or a backward question mark.

The Big Dipper

Mar 4, 2020

 


One of the most recognized asterisms in the sky is the Big Dipper. The Big dipper is part of the Constellation named Ursa Major which represents a great bear. The Big Dipper is easy to find and this month it can be seen rising in the northeastern sky. The handle is pointing downward. If the cup portion was able to hold a liquid then it would all spill out this month due to the vertical position of its cup.

Venus After Sunset

Feb 26, 2020
Venus shines with the Moon in Night Skies
https://pixabay.com/

Welcome to Utah Skies. This past month, we’ve been treated with a spectacular evening show as the bright planet Venus has dominated the western skies after sunset.

Early Morning Planets

Feb 24, 2020
Tom Westre

 

 

During February Venus is easy to spot in the evening sky after the sun sets.

For early risers, three planets are lined up in the eastern sky about one hour before the sunrises.

Mars is the highest, followed by the king of the planets, Jupiter, then closer to the horizon is the famous ringed planet Saturn.

The Winter Triangle

Feb 11, 2020
Celestron Sky Portal App

 

In the past I have talked about the Summer Triangle consisting of three bright stars in the summer sky namely, Deneb, Altair, and Vega. Did you know that there is also a Winter Triangle formed by the three stars, Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Procyon?

Betelgeuse Is Dimming

Feb 5, 2020
Blaine Dickey

 

 


No supernova has been observed in our Milky Way galaxy since the invention of the telescope in 1608. That may be about to change. 

 

Auriga And The Kids

Jan 30, 2020
Sidney Hall

 

 


Back in November, I reported on the rising in the east of the constellation Auriga, a prominent winter constellation that can be seen in the evenings in the Northern Hemisphere. Auriga is a hexagon shaped constellation located just above the easy to spot constellation Orion.  

 

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.

Pages