Tom Westre

Utah Skies: The Moon Meets Antares

Aug 27, 2020
Stellarium

If you look south south west in the early evening in the late summer early fall you will see Antares, the 15th brightest star in the skies. Antares is a bright red star located in the “heart” of the constellation Scorpious the Scorpion, a fishhook shaped constellation. Antares is Greek for “Mars rival” the Greek god of war. Both are red and every few years Mars passes near Antares which lies over 600 light years away. The light we see tonight left Antares around 1400 AD.

Beautiful Albireo On Utah Skies

Aug 24, 2020
Tom Westre

One of the most popular night sky objects for amateur astronomers is the star Albireo located in the constellation Cygnus the swan.

Utah Skies: News Mars Rover

Aug 6, 2020
NASA


While Jupiter and Saturn dominate the summer evening skies, the fourth planet from the Sun, Mars, rises in the eastern skies a little after midnight in the constellation Pisces the Fish. By mid-August Mars will rise about 10 pm. Its tiny disk will grow in size as the distance between Mars and Earth decreases.

Mars has been the focus of decades of robotic exploration looking for evidence of past life on Mars.

The NEOWISE Comet on Utah Skies

Jul 23, 2020
Tom Westre

In 2007 NASA proposed a mission to look for New Earth Objects. The name of the mission was called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). In late 2004 NASA selected the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University to build the telescope for WISE. WISE successfully launched in December of 2009.

The Great Hercules Cluster

Jul 1, 2020
Tom Westre

Globular clusters are large collections of hundreds of thousands of stars in a gravitationally bound small area of space. They are one of most spectacular objects to view in binoculars or telescopes. These objects lie well outside in the halo of the Milky Way.

The Summer Triangle

Jun 24, 2020
NASA/JPL/Stellarium

The stars Altair, Vega and Deneb are three stars that form what is known as the Summer Triangle. These three stars are not a constellation but form an asterism which is an easily identified pattern of stars.

Summer Solstice Approaching

Jun 18, 2020
NASA Blog

The Sun will appear highest in the sky above Utah and any place in the Northern Hemisphere on Saturday, June 20th at 3:44 pm MDT, known as the Summer Solstice.

American Astronauts Headed To Space

May 29, 2020
NASA/Space X

In 1961 Alan Shepherd became the first American in space. He made the first flight as part of Project Mercury in a spacecraft called Freedom 7.

Venus, Mercury, And The Moon

May 21, 2020
Stellarium

 

This spring after the sun sets in the west the 2nd planet from the Sun, Venus, has given us a wonderful evening celestial show. Venus at this point in its orbit around the Sun is known as the “evening star”.

Leo After Sunset

Apr 29, 2020
image of Regulus in night sky
Tom Westre

After sunset this spring the constellation Leo can be seen.

Comets, Comets, Comets

Apr 22, 2020
comet Atlas in sky
Tom Westre

Back in early March Comet Atlas was beginning to take center stage in the world of astronomy as a comet that might evolve into a bright naked eye comet rivaling the planet Venus seen in the west after sunset.   

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 sun sets.

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.

Venus Near the Young Moon and Neptune

Jan 30, 2020
Brocken Inaglory/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en


Venus has been a prominent bright object in the southwestern skies just after sunset for the past few weeks. 

 

Venus is the third brightest night time object after the Sun and Moon.  

 

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.  

 

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.  

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