Archive for the ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ Category

A Sky Full of Stars: January’s Joys!

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

The New Year begins with an astronomical bang, with two perigee Full Moons, four morning planets, two Moon/planets conjunctions, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower, and a lunar eclipse – all in the month of January!


PERIGEE FULL MOON – January 1/2: January’s first perigee Full Moon will also be the closest, thus largest-appearing, of 2018. The Moon will reach lunar perigee at 21:54 UTC on the 1st and 100% illumination about five hours later, at 02:24 UTC on the 2nd.

You can use a timezone convertor to determine your local times, but wherever you are, the Full Moon will look especially large and bright during the first two nights of the New Year!

FUN FACT: January’s Full Moon is also know as the Wolf Moon. At perigee, it will be 221,559-miles from Earth.



Triple-Treat SkyWatching This Week!

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

This week’s night sky offers a solar system triple-treat, with the Geminid meteor shower on Wednesday night/Thursday morning (12/13-12/14) – a close grouping of Jupiter, Mars, and the crescent Moon on Thursday morning (12/14) – and a near-Earth pass of the Geminids’ source, 3200 Phaethon, on Saturday night (12/16).



Geminids, NASA/JPL

The Geminids; so-called because the shower appears to radiate from constellation Gemini; is a typically prolific event, with frequent fireballs and peak rates of dozens of meteors per hour – and the  meteors, themselves, are bright and often leave long trails. This year’s event should be especially fruitful, with a morning crescent moon offering darker skies for better viewing. has already reported 40+ fireballs in the past three days, so peak night could be especially exciting. UPDATE: reported 475 Geminid fireballs, as of 12/14!


Under British Skies – Episode 40 – Philae Touchdown

Sunday, November 16th, 2014



This month, the UBS team spoke to Neil Norman and Padma Yanamanranda-Fisher about the Philae touchdown events.

Here are the shownotes for tonights show: Shownotes Document

Join us on Under British Skies team on facebook

Following Under British Skies on Twitter

Here is some more information about the Under British Skies Team

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

What does musician, artist, author, and meteorite hunter, Geoffrey Notkin, have in common with the Caped Crusader? Find out in our “Rock Star” interview, coming soon!

Total Lunar Eclipse 2010!

Sunday, December 19th, 2010
WHAT: Total Lunar Eclipse
WHEN: Evening of December 20 / Morning of December 21
WHERE: The Night Sky!

Although the eclipse will officially start when the Moon makes first contact with Earth’s outer shadow, at 05:29 UT /12:29 am ET / 9:29 pm PT, totality will not begin until Luna begins its 72-minute passage through Earth’s inner shadow, at 07:40 UT / 02:40 ET / 11:40 PT.

Lunar eclipses are best observed with the unaided-eye, but a standard pair of binoculars will help to intensify totality’s coppery red color.  Photographs are also very effective in bringing-out an eclipse’s dramatic colors.  If you’re new to night sky or eclipse photography, these Basic Photography Tips explain the three technical elements of an image and this Lunar Eclipse Exposure Guide suggests basic settings for eclipse photography.

Add some evaluation fun to your evening, by using the Danjon Scale to determine the Moon’s appearance and brightness during totality.

Share your observations with others. is encouraging observers to submit their Danjon Scale ratings, to assist climate scientist Richard Keen with his Lunar Aerosol Climate Experiment.  You can also share your observations on Twitter, by including hashtags like #LunarEclipse, #skywatch, and #moonwatch with your tweets.

As the Moon becomes immersed in shadow, try identifying various craters and Apollo landing sites, as well as neighboring celestial objects.  Luna will spend the evening in Taurus, near the borders with Gemini and Orion.  This region includes such deepsky favorites as Orion’s Nebula; Messier clusters M35, M36, M37, and M38; Monoceros’ Cone Nebula; and Taurus’ Pleaides and Hyades clusters.  Some brighter stars in the area include Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, Procyon, Pollux and Castor, Capella, and Alnath and Alhena.

While December’s Full “Long Night” Moon doesn’t officially occur until December 21st, Luna will be “full” when it rises Monday evening (else we couldn’t have a lunar eclipse!)  A rising full Moon is always a pretty thing to see, so watch for it on your ENE horizon around 4:30pm, or about 30-minutes before sunset.

If your skies are too cloudy, you can observe the eclipse via live webcast:

Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center

Night Sky Network (an Astronomers Without Borders list of nine different broadcasters)

SLOOH Online Observatory (registered members only)


This month’s Total Lunar Eclipse is the first in nearly three years – our last total event was in February 2008.

This year’s Total Lunar Eclipse nearly coincides with the Solstice, which will occur on December 21 at 23:38 UT / 6:38pm ET / 3:38pm PT.  The last solstice eclipse was in 1638; the next will be in 2094.

There will be two Total Lunar Eclipses next year, in June and December, the latter of which will be visible in the U.S.

The outer and inner shadows, through which the Moon passes, are known as the penumbra and umbra.

A Total Lunar Eclipse, or totality, occurs when Luna is completely immersed in Earth’s inner shadow.

There are other types of lunar eclipses, including a penumbral eclipse, when the Moon passes through Earth’s outer shadow, and a partial eclipse, when Luna passes through only a portion of Earth’s inner shadow.  The most dramatic, and more elusive, of eclipses is a selenelion, or horizontal eclipse, when any lunar eclipse can be viewed opposite the Sun, such as during sunrise or sunset.

The duration of an eclipse varies according to Luna’s path through Earth’s shadow.  The maximum time an eclipse can last, from penumbra entrance to penumbra exit, is 3-hours, 40-minutes.  The longest totality, when Luna passes through the very center of Earth’s shadow, is 1-hour, 40-minutes.  Partial eclipses are much shorter, particularly when only a small portion of the Moon slips through the top or bottom of Earth’s outer shadow.

Lunar eclipses occur 2 to 3 times a year and are visible over an entire hemisphere. (Solar eclipses occur 2 to 5 times a year, but are visible along a path not more than 167-miles wide.)

Total Lunar Eclipses are always preceded or followed by a Solar Eclipse, with exactly two weeks between the two.  This month’s Lunar Eclipse will be followed by a Partial Solar Eclipse on January 4, 2011.

Lunar eclipses follow a long-term rhythm, wherein each eclipse’s characteristics are repeated every 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours (223 synodic months.)  This month’s eclipse is #48 of Saros 125, a series of 72 eclipses, beginning on July 17, 1163 and ending on September 9, 2443.


Astroguyz – Dan Durda’s Exploring the Apollo Landing Sites – David Bradley’s Science Base – Digital Cameras Help – Farmer’s Almanac – Keith’s Moon Page – Mr. Eclipse – NASA/GSFC – Night Sky Hunter – Shadow and Substance – Sky and Telescope – –

This article is written by  A Sky Full of Stars

The Sky Tonight: Aug 19 – Aug 25

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

This week’s “Look Up” report features a Perseids update, the Full “Dog Days” Moon, and two evening “stars”! You can catch the report throughout the week, or listen right now.