Hunting Twilight Sights On Summer Nights

Twilight takes up a significant part of every 24-hour period during the summer months. Paired with the latest sunsets of the year the sky doesn’t get dark until around 10:30 p.m. in the central U.S. and an hour later than that in the northern states. Where I live, twilight is like honey pouring from a…
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Saharan Dust Cloud Arrives In U.S. — Watch For Red Sunsets

Every spring, summer and early fall, trade winds pick up about 882 million tons (800 metric tons) of desert dust from North Africa and blow it west across the Atlantic Ocean. This year, NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite first observed the huge plume of Saharan dust streaming over the North Atlantic starting on June 13. Since…
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Comet NEOWISE Heads North, May Become Visible With The Naked Eye

A comet named for a spacecraft mission is currently rounding the sun and will soon appear at dawn. Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) will pass nearest the sun on July 3 at a distance of 27.3 million miles (44 million km), nearly 9 million miles closer than Mercury.  If it survives the solar onslaught skywatchers in the…
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Noctilucent Nights — Hunting For Clouds At The Edge Of Space

The start of summer brings lush growth, heat, mosquitos, the Milky Way and special clouds, too. Not just those incredible thunderclouds, also called cumulonimbus, that bubble to heights of 39,000 feet (12,000 meters) but also a peculiar twilight variety called noctilucent or night-shining clouds. Their wispy textures resemble cirrus clouds, sometimes called mares’ tails, that…
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Italian Amateur Captures Amazing Photo Of Mercury’s Tail

If you didn’t know better you’d guess this was a photo of a comet taken in twilight. That’s a coma and tail, right? Nope. What you’re actually seeing is the planet Mercury trailing a tail of sodium atoms! Italian amateur astronomer Andrea Alessandrini was looking for a new challenge. He wanted to try to photograph…
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