Did you see Halley’s Comet when it sailed past Earth in 1985 and 1986? If not, you’ll have to wait until 2061 for another chance, because Halley’s Comet only comes around once every 76 years.
This week I have some really exciting celestial news to share. Astronomers have announced the discovery of a new comet that might — and I emphasize might — become the brightest comet seen from the Northern Hemisphere in many decades, if not centuries.
The first full moon of autumn traditionally is called the “harvest moon.” Watch for that big harvest moon to rise over the eastern mountains.
What’s the farthest thing you can see without a telescope? Would you believe 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles on a clear night? That’s 15 quintillion miles!
I was going into the 11th grade when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on another world. It was the hot summer of ’69 and I was visiting my Aunt Alice in Appleton City, Mo.
Peering at us on late-summer evenings are the twinkling eyes of Draco the Dragon. This constellation represents Ladon, the dragon that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides in Greek mythology.
Have you ever seen a blue moon hanging up in the sky? Well, this month you can, but you might be surprised to learn that a “blue moon” has nothing at all to do with the moon’s color.
Two very large constellations, Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer and Hercules the Strong Man, take up a large chunk of our late-summer sky. We see them standing head to head, high up in the southern sky as darkness falls.
Legend has it that a pot of gold awaits you at the end of the rainbow, if you are lucky enough to find it. No luck at all is required, however, to find the pot of tea at the end of the Milky Way.
The annual Perseid meteor shower, which dependably produces 60 or more "falling stars" per hour at its peak, is under way and is expected to peak before dawn Sunday.
NASA’s roving vehicle named Curiosity is scheduled to land Monday on Mars and begin searching for hints of ancient Martian life.
If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of shooting stars in recent nights, there’s a good reason. This month’s annual Delta Aquarid meteor shower is increasing in activity as we get closer to its peak on the morning of July 29.
When the bright moon is not in the sky, the dark summer night reveals one of its most spectacular treasures, the soft, misty glow of the Via Lactea, or the Milky Way.
It seems like something is missing from our evening sky. For the first several months of 2012, the dazzling “evening star” Venus dominated our evening sky as soon as the sun went down.
Come join other astronomy enthusiasts at what is being billed as the first annual “Stagecoach Star Party” at 9 p.m. Friday at the Morrison Cove boat ramp on the south shore of Stagecoach Reservoir.
The summer solstice, marking the official end of spring and the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere, occurs this year at 5:08 p.m. local time Wednesday.
When the sun goes down and the summer stars come out, three of the first ones you see, high in the northeastern sky, will be the trio of bright stars that forms the corners of the Summer Triangle.
To date, I’ve spent 31 minutes and 23 seconds in the shadow of the moon, watching and photographing eclipses of the sun. Because the moon’s shadow rarely comes to me, I have to chase it around the world, wherever it might fall.
“By far the noblest (sight) astronomy affords.” That’s how Sir Edmund Halley of Halley’s Comet fame described a transit of the planet Venus across the face of the sun.
In an eerie re-creation of last December’s sunrise lunar eclipse, the full moon once again will slip into the Earth’s dark shadow by the dawn’s early light on the morning of June 4.
Centaurs figured heavily in the mythology of the ancient Greeks — so much so that two of them are immortalized in the stars as our constellations of Sagittarius the Archer and Centaurus the Centaur.
I can’t help but chuckle a little when the news media pick up on a rather mundane celestial event and blow it way out of proportion. Such was the case with this past weekend’s so-called “super moon.”
Not since May 10, 1994, has a central eclipse of the sun been seen from the 48 contiguous United States. It has been a long eclipse drought, but come May 20, folks living in the southwestern U.S. will have a ringside seat for an annular eclipse of the sun.
Winging his way across our springtime sky is a delightful little constellation named Corvus the Crow. In most constellations, the designation Alpha is bestowed upon the brightest star, but Corvus is a notable exception.
April not only brings snow and rain showers to the mountains of Northwest Colorado, it also brings the annual Lyrid meteor shower.
There are 88 constellations in our sky, and only one of them begins with the letter B: Bootes the Herdsman, and it could be the most ancient of our constellations.
In space, there is no up or down, no top or bottom. On Earth, gravity defines our “down” as toward the center of the Earth and our “up” as the direction opposite that, but these have no meaning once you are away from the Earth’s influence.
One of the sure signs that spring has arrived is the return of the Big Dipper to our early evening sky. Look toward the northeastern sky at about 9 p.m. to find the seven bright stars of the Big Dipper, propped up on its handle.
Ah, springtime. The early signs are all here: the mud, the blackbirds, the return of the Big Dipper to our early evening sky, more mud and the gradual lengthening of our daylight hours.
Have you ever seen a red star? No, I mean a really red star. Tucked in under the handle of the Big Dipper is one of the reddest stars in the sky, named La Superba.
During the first two weeks of March our evening sky is swarming with bright planets — Mars in the east and Jupiter and Venus in the west. You might even catch a glimpse of the elusive Mercury.
Once every 780 days, Earth passes in between Mars and the sun, placing the two planets as close together as possible. This alignment of worlds is called opposition.
Have you ever wondered why February has only 28 days most years but occasionally has 29 days, as it does this year? This whole leap year thing started back in the days of the Roman Empire under the reign of Julius Caesar.
If you were a constellation made of very faint stars and didn’t want to draw attention to yourself, there couldn’t be a better spot for you to hide than among the brilliant stars of winter.
The very familiar star pattern of Orion the Hunter is found overhead at 8 p.m. in early February. The bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel at his shoulder and foot, respectively, join the three stars in a row marking Orion’s Belt to form one of the most widely recognized star patterns in the entire sky.
Groundhog Day is coming up this week. The origin of this unusual holiday can be traced back hundreds of years, although not in the same form that we celebrate it today.
High overhead as darkness falls on cold January evenings is a tiny cluster of stars that is often mistaken for the Little Dipper. Although it does have a dipper shape, with a tiny little bowl and a tiny little handle, its real name is the Pleiades star cluster.
Winter is an excellent time to start learning the constellations. The winter sky contains more bright stars and constellations than any other season of the year.
Venus, the lovely evening star, is dominating our evening sky right now. She is the first “star” that you’ll see pop out of the evening twilight, so feel free to make a wish on her.
This year promises to be one of the most exciting years in recent memory for sky watchers. There are solar and lunar eclipses, a rare transit of Venus, conjunctions of bright planets and showers of falling stars to keep us looking up all year long.
On any given night of the year, a single observer can expect to see about five or six shooting stars, or meteors, every hour of the night.
The winter solstice, marking the moment that fall ends and winter begins in the northern hemisphere, is at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. The winter solstice is a very happy day and a very sad day.
Shower appears to be getting stronger, better each year
The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks this week, but it will be competing against the bright December moonlight. You can see some Geminid meteors several days before the shower actually peaks Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, and for several days thereafter.
Saturday is the closest that Colorado will come to a total lunar eclipse until April 15, 2014, so you’d better take advantage of this brush with totality.
Solar activity is on the rise, which means so are the chances of seeing the Northern Lights from Colorado.
Shining brightly in the southern sky as darkness falls is one of autumn’s few bright stars, a blue gem named Fomalhaut.
Stars are born in clusters — families of dozens to hundreds of stars that share the same age and chemical makeup — but they don’t remain in clusters their entire lives. Like fledgling birds, stars eventually leave the nest in which they were born to roam the galaxy alone.
What’s that twinkly, golden star hovering over the northeastern mountains as darkness falls in mid-November? It’s Capella, the third brightest star visible in Colorado skies and the brightest star in the constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer.
Mercury and Venus, the two innermost planets in our solar system, are moving out from behind the sun and into our early evening sky.
One of my favorite times of year for sky-watching is early fall, when the nights are clear but not yet frigid. On moonless autumn evenings, one almost can see to infinity. In fact, the fall sky offers the opportunity to see the two most distant objects visible to the unaided human eye.