See China’s Tiangong-1 Space Station Before It’s No More

China’s first space station, Tiangong-1 or Heavenly Palace, is out of control and doomed to fall to Earth in the second half of 2017. Should you worry? Not really. Two-thirds of the planet is covered in water and much of the remainder is either uninhabited or thinly so, making the chance of any one individual being…
Read More

Stargazing On Mars

We’re stuck with Earth for now when it comes to stargazing. And despite the plague of light pollution, it’s still a pretty good planet for looking up. But thanks to planetarium-style software, we can easily jaunt off to Mars and get an inkling of what the night sky has to offer on a different planet.…
Read More

Weekend Space Station Extravaganza

Many of us have seen the the International Space Station (ISS) pass overhead at night. Maybe once a night. How would you like to see it five times in in the span of one evening? This weekend, you’ll have your chance. Passes starts a typical 6-minute run with an appearance low in the western sky traveling…
Read More

Crescent Moon Crescendo And Fall Finale

Look to the west-southwest at dusk tonight and you’ll see a thin crescent moon tilted over on its side. Its shape reminds me of Mona Lisa’s sweet and slightly mischievous smile. While it might seem strange to associate such a delicate-appearing object with a crescendo, a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music,…
Read More

Perihelion Paradox? Closer Sun, Colder Days

Yesterday, while preparing dinner, Earth reached its closest point to the sun for the year. This annual milestone, called perihelion, from the Greek ‘peri’ (close) and ‘helios’ (sun), happens paradoxically every January. Shouldn’t it be warmer if we’re closer to the sun? Earth’s distance from the sun varies over the course of a year because we…
Read More