Things have been a little exciting for me the last couple days – I’m a grandpa! My daughter Amanda and her husband Sam delivered Alayanora Lee Festian at home on Sunday Feb. 9th – under the full Moon. All are doing well – astronomy-related baby clothes suggestions are welcome! 🙂 The day after my granddaughter was born we put our house back on the market – calls for showings started pouring in while we were visiting our granddaughter. When you show your house, you have to be away from the premises when prospective buyers are at a showing – and the house has to be cleaned… have I ever mentioned that I own parrots? I also work from home, and I have a new granddaughter… I may have been a bit distracted the last couple days. Jupiter and Mars nearly align with the star Antares above the southeastern horizon before dawn – follow those three to find Saturn, still low … Continue reading →
About Bob Trembley
Bob is a lifelong amateur astronomer, and the 2019 outreach officer for the Warren Astronomical Society, and a volunteer NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. Bob does a lot of astronomy outreach - he lectures about astronomy and space science, and sets up his telescopes at schools, planetariums, conventions, and other venues. From 2014-2016, he was the editor of the Warren Astronomical Society's newsletter.
Bob is fantastically interested in asteroids and near-Earth objects (NEOs), and a HUGE fan of Kerbal Space Program; he is determined to improve the teaching of astronomy and Space History throughout Michigan, and the U.S. Follow Bob on Twitter, Facebook, The Web, and YouTube.
The Moon is the “star” of the sky this week, going from just past first-quarter through full, and having close encounters with several stars – this ought to make the Moon a great observing target all week! Saturn makes a return to the eastern morning sky, joining Jupiter and Mars – Saturn is a bit low on the horizon, and may be lost in the glare of the Sun for several weeks. M 22 Messier 22 or M22, also known as NGC 6656, is an elliptical globular cluster of stars in the constellation Sagittarius, near the Galactic bulge region. It is one of the brightest globulars that is visible in the night sky. The brightest stars are 11th magnitude, with hundreds of stars bright enough to resolve with an 8″ telescope. M22 is located just south of the Ecliptic, and northwest of Lambda Sagittarii (Kaus Borealis), the northernmost star of the “Teapot” asterism. M22 was one of the first globulars to be discovered, on August 26, 1665 by Abraham Ihle and it was included in Charles … Continue reading →
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope will transmit the final science and engineering data to mission control today and then be commanded off, ending its amazing and surprising mission. Spitzer has enabled groundbreaking advances in our understanding of planetary systems around other stars, the evolution of galaxies in the nearby and distant universe, the structure of our Milky Way galaxy, the infinite variety in the lives of stars, and the constituents of our Solar System. Long after Spitzer has ceased transmissions, scientists will continue making discoveries from its 16 years of data for decades to come. NASA’s Spitzer used an ultra-sensitive infrared telescope to study asteroids, comets, planets and distant galaxies. Some of its top discoveries include: Recipe for “comet soup.” Spitzer observed the aftermath of the collision between NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft and comet Tempel 1, finding that cometary material in our own solar system resembles that around nearby stars. The largest known ring around Saturn, a wispy, fine structure with 300 … Continue reading →
The handle of the “Big Dipper” asterism points nearly straight down toward the northeastern horizon at midnight this week. The waxing crescent Moon appears near at dusk on Jan 29th & 30th. The Moon appears near the star Aldebaran at dusk on the evenings of February 2nd-4th. Jupiter appears low and Mars appears high above the southeastern horizon at dawn this week. M 47 Messier 47 (M47 or NGC 2422) is an open cluster in the constellation Puppis. It was discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654 and independently discovered by Charles Messier on February 19, 1771. It was later independently discovered again, under the current name NGC 2422. There is actually no cluster in the position indicated by Messier, which he expressed in terms of its right ascension and declination with respect to the star 2 Puppis. However, if the signs of Messier’s coordinate differences are changed, the position matches that of NGC 2422. Until the equivalency of M47 with NGC 2422 was found, M47 was considered a lost Messier Object. The discovery that M47 and … Continue reading →
We’re running a membership drive this month – our goal is 150 new members. Please subscribe and help support this website and VOF education and outreach programs. The constellation Orion appears high in the southwestern sky at midnight this week; at the latest meeting of the Warren Astronomical Society, the dimming of the star Betelgeuse was discussed – members mentioned that the star had almost dimmed to the level of the other three major stars in the constellation… which was “just weird.” Here's another comparison showing the dimming of #Betelgeuse – this time shot at 50mm focal length (and cropped in on Orion). At left is a shot from Jan 2019, right is the one from last night. Identical equipment/exposures/apertures etc. HQ version here: https://t.co/V2PGbskgVI pic.twitter.com/ailwKLfAdn — Will Gater (@willgater) January 19, 2020 Jupiter makes a return to the southeastern at dawn! Jupiter will appear very low on the horizon this week. Mars continues to appear near the star Antares … Continue reading →
Check out the Vatican Observatory Foundation’s YouTube channel! We have several videos about current astronomical issues as well as shorts films about the relationship between the Catholic Church and Science today and historically – we’ve also linked to numerous other videos featuring VOF staff. We’re running a membership drive this month – our goal is 150 new members. Please subscribe and help support this website and VOF education and outreach programs.Continue reading →
We’re running a membership drive this month – our goal is 150 new members. Please subscribe and help support this website and VOF education and outreach programs. Mars appears near the star Antares in the southeastern horizon before dawn this week; a waning crescent Moon joins them on January 20th. The Moon appears near the star Regulus at midnight on January 13th, and near the star Spica on January 17th. Venus appears high and bright above the southwestern horizon at dusk this week. The Moon is a waning gibbous, rising after sunset, visible high in the sky after midnight, and visible to the southwest after sunrise. The third quarter moon occurs on January 17th, rising around midnight, and visible to the south after sunrise. After January 17th, the Moon will be a waning crescent, visible low to the east before sunrise. Moon News Impact craters come in many sizes. In this image, the crater on the top left, called … Continue reading →
With NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System, you can learn about the Earth, the solar system and beyond! You can fly alongside current spacecraft, take guided tours of historic space missions, travel to the planets, their moons, comets and asteroids. You can visualize and animate Earth climate data, and take virtual tours of exoplanets that have been discovered orbiting other stars! NASA’s Eyes is FREE for Windows and MAC, and is great for use in the classroom or at home! I use Eyes every week to create images for my “In the Sky” posts; in this post, I’ll cover the Eyes on the Solar System module of the Eyes app. When you launch the Eyes client app, you are presented with a splash screen showing the three Eyes modules; Eyes on the Solar System (middle) has two buttons: simple and advanced mode. Simple mode presents you with a very minimal user interface, and enters into a Kiosk-mode after a few … Continue reading →
I am the 2020 outreach officer for the Warren Astronomical Society – this is a position I’ve held several times before; I receive requests from individuals and groups that would like to use our observatory, or have a member come to their location and set up telescopes and/or give presentations about astronomy and space science. I’ve got a great outreach team – several of our members are volunteer NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors; we frequently get excellent feedback from the public for our events! One of the things I want to do this year is resurrect a popular Messier observing program that late member Larry Kalinowski ran years before I joined. I’m going to base it off of the Astronomical League’s Messier observing program, and I want to create some “standard” easy-to-use forms for recording and submitting observing logs. Mars appears above the star Antares in the southeastern horizon before dawn this week The Moon appears near the star Aldebaran on … Continue reading →
By mid-February 2020, I will be a grandparent! Thoughts of what the world might be like when my granddaughter is an adult naturally come to mind. What new things will astronomers have discovered in the cosmos? What new inventions will change society forever, again? I also have to give a thought to my granddaughter’s quality of life, and in this I have to admit to no small amount of trepidation… Before I started writing this post, I was collecting notes about what I wanted to discuss – the list of topics grew WAY past my expectations, and needs to be an article all by itself. Many, but not all of the topics relate to pollution in its various forms: microplastics, air pollution, light/electromagnetic pollution, compromised city water systems, PFAS, space junk – the list goes on and on… Let me condense all those notes into one single question: Do you believe humanity is acting as adequate stewards of this Earth, … Continue reading →
The waning crescent Moon joined Mars and the star Spica in the southeastern sky before sunrise on Dec. 24th – Mercury has vanished from the morning sky, and will return to the southwestern sky at dusk at the end of January 2020. Saturn and Venus continue to move away from each other in the southwestern sky after sunset each evening – Saturn is very low on the horizon; the waxing crescent Moon joins Venus and Saturn on the evenings of Dec.27-29. The red supergiant star Betelgeuse in the Constellation Orion appears high in the southern sky at midnight this week; this last week, I saw numerous tweets from astronomer about Betelgeuse, so I thought highlighting it might be appropriate. Betelgeuse Betelgeuse is generally the ninth-brightest star in the night sky and second-brightest in the constellation of Orion (after Rigel). It is a distinctly wreddish, semiregular variable star whose apparent magnitude varies between +0.0 and +1.3, the widest range of any first-magnitude star. At near-infrared wavelengths, Betelgeuse is the brightest star in the night sky. It has the Bayer … Continue reading →
Saturn and Venus move away from each other each evening in the southwestern sky after sunset this week – by early next week, Saturn will be very low on the horizon. Mercury, Mars and the star Spica continue to align above the southeastern horizon before sunrise this week – Mercury is very low, and may be challenging to observe. The waning gibbous Moon appears in the eastern sky around midnight on Dec. 18th, the star Regulus nearby. A waning crescent Moon appears near the star Spica in the eastern sky around 4:00 AM on Dec. 21st. Asteroid Occultations More often than I thought, asteroids and transneptunian objects pass in front of stars, causing them to monetarily wink-out. This observing challenge is a rather more advanced than most, as it is best done with an 8 inch+ telescope, and if you intend on reporting your timings (kinda the point) you’ll need video recording equipment with time-insertion hardware, and the ability to … Continue reading →