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!

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.

The Vega Star: The Old - And Future - North Star

Jun 26, 2019
Christophe LEHENAFF

One of the most interesting stars in the summer skies is Vega. Vega is close to us at only 25 light years from the Sun.  It is the second brightest star seen from the Northern Hemisphere.

Summer Solstice - The Longest Day Of The Year

Jun 20, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Summer officially begins astronomically in Utah on Friday, June 21st, at 9:54 MDT.  The northern hemisphere on the solstice is the longest day of the year.  Dawn comes early and sunsets come late, with short nights and less time to enjoy the night sky.  

The Planet Jupiter And Its Moons

Jun 14, 2019
NASA

In early June the planet Jupiter ascends slowly into the southeastern evening sky. This beige colored planet is easy to see because it is the brightest object in the night sky except for the moon.

NASA

When asked which Solar system world has the most water most people would say the earth has the most water. Although 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water only 0.12% of Earth’s total volume is liquid water.

NASA

You may have heard the name OSIRUS-Rex in the news lately. It is a NASA-sponsored spacecraft that was launched on the 8th of September 2016 and has recently entered into orbit around the asteroid Bennu, a small spinning top shaped asteroid composed of gravel like material. 

Polaris: AKA The North Star

May 9, 2019
Blaine Dickey

Polaris is the proper name for what is often referred to as the North Star. For several thousand years it has served as a signpost in the sky and points northward to all those who view it. Of all the stars it is unique because it appears to be almost stationary in the sky while all the other stars appear to rotate around it.

Saturn In Retrograde

May 3, 2019
NASA

From the Earth we view the brighter outer planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn moving in their orbits around the Sun in an easterly direction.  At times these planets seem to stop in their eastward motion and reverse direction towards the west for a few months before they resume their normal eastward motion   Astronomers call this retrograde motion. 

Moon Meet Antares, Jupiter And Saturn

May 3, 2019
NASA

For the next few mornings in the pre-dawn sky look south and you will see the bright red star Antares, followed by King Jupiter to the left and the ringed planet Saturn to the left of Jupiter.  

NASA

The star Arcturus glows brightly in the eastern sky in the spring and summer months. It is the fourth brightest star in the sky. It has a distinct yellowish color and when noticed in the eastern sky you will know that spring is about to arrive. 

Farout And FarFarOut with Blaine Dickey

Apr 23, 2019
NASA

A group of astronomers using the Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope, located on the top of the mountain Mauna Kea in Hawaii has discovered an object in the extreme outer portions of the solar system on November 18, 2018.  

NASA

Sirius is the most luminous Star in the Sky and is easily observed this month about 1/3rd of the way up the southern sky around 9 p.m. Only our Sun, the moon, Venus, and Jupiter, are brighter. Sirius is the 10th closest star to the earth being only 8.7 light years away, about twice the size of our sun, and about 20 times brighter. 

Vernal Equinox-Full Moon with Tom Westre

Apr 23, 2019
NASA

Tomorrow we wake up to a new season. Spring begins at 3:44 p.m. MDT— the moment of the vernal equinox. It occurs when the Sun crosses Earth’s equator from south to north. We look forward to longer and warmer days. 

Zodiac With Tom Westre

Apr 23, 2019
NASA

One of the exciting adventures of astronomy is to find other planets like the earth orbiting other stars. The first such planet was found in 1992. On March 6, 2009, NASA launched a planet-hunting satellite called Kepler. Its job was to stare at a spot in the sky containing 150,00 stars,  in the Constellation Cygnus, looking for dips in starlight as an orbing planet passed between us and its sun. Kepler collected this data in two missions.  

New Horizon Spacecraft With Blaine Dickey

Apr 23, 2019
NASA

The New Horizon Spacecraft was launched on its journey to the outer solar system on January 19, 2006. It arrived at the minor planet Pluto more than nine years later on July 14, 2015. It revealed an amazing amount of detail about Pluto that was previously unknown, such as kilometer high mountains made of solid ice, craters, cry-o-volcanoes, and plains made of nitrogen ice.

The Planet Mercury With Blaine Dickey

Apr 23, 2019
NASA

The famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus first proposed that the sun rather than the earth was at the center of the Solar System. Legend has it that Copernicus never saw the planet Mercury. This is understandable considering that the planet Mercury hugs the horizon even when at its highest elevation in the sky.

Comet Iwamoto With Tom Wester

Apr 23, 2019
NASA

One of the great sites of the night skies are comets. Comets are small objects made up of dust and rocks. Comets come in the inner solar system from the outer region beyond Pluto.