From Sputnik To Space Junk

Part of Envisat’s path through the Bowl of the Big Dipper at 10:49 p.m. onJune 13. Taken with a digital camera at ISO 800, f/2.8, 30-second exposure. — Bob King Two nights ago, we looked at the European Earth observing satellite Envisat. I didn’t realize until I observed it myself how dim it was especially…
Read More

In The Glare Of The Sun Hides The Hunter

Orion around 1 p.m. today June 14. Orion normally hides in the glare of the daytime sun during the early part of the summer. Venus is the bump sticking out of the sun’s left side It’s also too close to the sun to see right now. — created with Stellarium. June is one sweet-smelling month.…
Read More

Pat On The Head For Pluto

Give a big welcome to the plutoid family, consisting of Pluto and the distant asteroidEris. Both are orbited by moons. Pluto is 1365 miles in diameter and Eris is 1440 miles — NASA/Hubble Space Telescope Poor Pluto. It’s been kicked around a lot the past couple years as astronomers have demoted it from planet status to…
Read More

Try Sniffing Out These Dogs

The gibbous moon will hang just below the star Spica in Virgo tonight. Keen-eyedbinocular users can see the 55-mile-diameter crater Copernicus along the moon’s terminator. — created with Stellarium I hesitate to do this but the Clear Sky Chart indicates a clear night tonight despite a grimmer forecast. Am I feeling lucky? You bet. With…
Read More

Spherical Aspirations

My daughter Maria holds one of her favorite types of spheres, a large ball.  Everybody loves a sphere. It’s the most common shape in the universe from soccer balls to stars. Long ago I wondered why so many things in the sky are spherical. Why not an oval or square or dodecahedron? Up to a certain size, objects…
Read More