Saturn Mercury Duet At Dawn

I thought we were done with the planets after the crescent moon stopped by on Thursday next to Jupiter and Saturn at dawn. Not on your life. Two more vie for our attention lower down in the dawn sky: bright Mercury and returning Saturn. They’ll really get close too — less than 1° (⅘° to…
Read More

Close Conjunctions Make Us Wonder: Do Planets Occult Planets?

If there’s such a thing as a pleasant 18 below zero morning, today was it. Mars and Jupiter mesmerized. The two were so close they looked identical to a double star viewed in a telescope. How fun to just look up and split them with eyes alone. My friend Greg, who lives in northern Wisconsin,…
Read More

Miss The Evening Planets? Cheer Up With A Visit To Uranus

Planets are scarce these nights. Look around the late fall sky and you won’t find a single one. At least not without optical aid. Only Uranus and Neptune swim among the evening stars. Venus, Saturn and Mercury are currently too close to the sun and swamped in its glare, and Jupiter and Mars shine low…
Read More

How Dark Will It Get During The August Total Eclipse?

Total solar eclipse on the island of Svalbard in 2015. The planet Venus is visible off to the left. Shadow bands flicker across the foreground seconds before totality. They form when the last tiny bit of sun refracts through air pockets of different densities and temperatures, creating a series of undulating bands of light. Toss a…
Read More

The Secret To Finding All Eight Planets On Your Own

I love sharing the news of planets, conjunctions, comets and all the rest with you guys. But you might be a do-it-yourself kind of person that likes strike out on their own. If so, here’s my two-step process to find every planet in the solar system. Step 1: Follow the moon, which any of us can…
Read More