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SkyCaramba

SkyCaramba

By SkyCaramba

Podcast about astronomy and the joys of watching the skies at night--and sometimes during the day
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The moon hides Mars
The moon hides Mars
Venus and Mercury step into the evening sky. The moon hides Mars for observers in North America and Europe.
05:22
December 04, 2022
Alrighty Auriga! And a DART on target.
Alrighty Auriga! And a DART on target.
The legend of the constellation Auriga tells of a man who succeeded in winning a royal bride after 18 suitors failed. They had to race the princess's father. If they lost, they lost big. The DART mission to nudge an asteroid into a different orbit worked. Why bother? The day may come when our lives depend on it.
06:07
November 27, 2022
Calculating planets' positions
Calculating planets' positions
Have you ever wanted to figure out where the planets would appear? I won't go into the details you'll need to do the math. But I'll tell you something to help you decide if you want to get started.
07:04
November 20, 2022
Start looking for Leonids and try to spot the crane
Start looking for Leonids and try to spot the crane
The Leonid meteor shower peak is coming. Actually, we could have multiple peaks as Earth passes through three old trails. A southerly bird on the celestial dome is a little hard for northern hemisphere observers to see, but you can try.
06:31
November 13, 2022
Lunar eclipse, Leonids, and the sun, stars, and stripes.
Lunar eclipse, Leonids, and the sun, stars, and stripes.
There's a total lunar eclipse this week. Start looking for Leonids. Earth is expected to pass through a few dense streams from hundreds of years ago. The designers of a monument to veterans in Arizona used astronomy to make something special happen at 11:11am on November 11.
06:34
November 06, 2022
Total lunar eclipse and how a nova shone new light on the nature of stars
Total lunar eclipse and how a nova shone new light on the nature of stars
Mars is turning around. Get ready for next week's total lunar eclipse. It's been 450 years since a supernova shone new light--literally and figuratively--on the true nature of stars.
09:03
October 30, 2022
Mercury Hidden and the Goat-Fish
Mercury Hidden and the Goat-Fish
An almost new moon hides an almost full Mercury this week. Learn how they can both be in the same part of the sky but in different phases. Capricornus is often recognized as a goat, but did you know it's half fish?
07:52
October 23, 2022
This month's solar eclipse and next month's Uranus opposition
This month's solar eclipse and next month's Uranus opposition
Parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia get a partial solar eclipse this month. If you're where you can see it, make sure you see it safely. Uranus will be at opposition next month. Learn how it got its name and some other ways to say it if you find it embarrassing.
06:55
October 16, 2022
Orionids, Hyades, and the stellar royal family
Orionids, Hyades, and the stellar royal family
Comet Halley is almost as far from us as it gets, but we're about to pass through its trail. Meet the Hyades, half-sisters of the Pleiades. Not much is said about the king going around the celestial north pole. The queen going around with him likes it that way. Learn about them and their daughter.
06:13
October 09, 2022
Sirius by day and DART
Sirius by day and DART
The brightest night star can be seen in the daytime at certain times of the year if you know exactly where to look. And observations are underway to determine if human technology can nudge an asteroid.
07:45
October 02, 2022
Tides
Tides
Your idea of how the moon affects the tides is probably incomplete. Here's the rest of the story.
06:09
September 25, 2022
A crab, donkeys, and bees
A crab, donkeys, and bees
One of the fainter constellations is named for a crustacean, even though two of its stars are donkeys and one of its star clusters is described as a beehive.
04:26
September 18, 2022
Jupiter's Great Red Spot
Jupiter's Great Red Spot
The most famous whirlwind in the solar system has been spinning for almost 200 years. Some think it's been around more than 360 years. You can see it for yourself in a telescope--if you look at the right time.
04:07
September 11, 2022
A once-in-a-lifetime opposition
A once-in-a-lifetime opposition
Jupiter will soon be the closest it's been to Earth since 1963! The next time it's this close will be in the next century. Mercury exits the evening sky and moves to the morning. Venus slowly leaves the morning. Mars marches eastward. And the equinox.
06:26
September 04, 2022
Awful astrology questions
Awful astrology questions
Mercury begins its retreat from the evening sky. Venus also heads sunward. Mars moves by the Hyades V. And how do I take it when people ask me astrology questions?
02:43
August 28, 2022
The Great Square
The Great Square
Learn about the Great Square of Pegasus and some star names that maybe don't make horse sense.
04:37
August 21, 2022
The swan and the eagle
The swan and the eagle
Mercury maintains evening status. Saturn goes through opposition. Jupiter stands strong for most of the night. Mars meets the Pleiades and Hyades. Venus sinks sunward. Two legendary birds, a swan and an eagle, fly alongside the Milky Way stream and are easily seen on August evenings.
04:27
August 14, 2022
A martyr's tears streak the sky
A martyr's tears streak the sky
Some people knew before scientists did that meteor showers are somewhat regular events. Meteor streaks seen in August have been described for centuries as the tears of a Christian martyr burned alive in Rome more than 1,700 years ago. However, astronomers didn't pay much mind to meteors until less than two centuries ago. What's left of the morning planetary lineup is spreading out as Saturn crosses into the evening sky one way and Mercury has already arrived there from the other.
03:20
August 07, 2022
Eclipse timing
Eclipse timing
Mercury's moving into the evening sky. The other planets are still merry in the morning. And in case you wondered about eclipses seemingly occurring at regular intervals, you're right.
04:42
July 31, 2022
Mercury emerges into the evening; the lover's crown over your head
Mercury emerges into the evening; the lover's crown over your head
Mercury went through superior conjunction recently. Now it's emerging in the evening sky. A lover's crown goes over our heads on July evenings. The old stories tell of a woman hurt by a lover who left her and a god who wanted to be her rebound.
05:49
July 24, 2022
Galactic coordinates and the Delta Aquariid meteor shower
Galactic coordinates and the Delta Aquariid meteor shower
Not a lot of astronomy guides use it, but some astronomers like the galactic coordinate system. And try to see some Delta Aquariid meteors.
05:03
July 17, 2022
Robert Goddard's vindication
Robert Goddard's vindication
A well reputed newspaper published a scathing editorial putting down the founder of rocket science for his idea that a rocket can be controlled in space and even made to land on the moon. The paper said anybody with a high school education should know better. The newspaper eventually published a retraction, but not before people were actually on their way to the moon.
05:14
July 10, 2022
The moon moves through the evening, Saturn's shadow, eccentricity
The moon moves through the evening, Saturn's shadow, eccentricity
The moon moves through the evening sky this week, while most of the planets are still visible in the morning. Over the next few weeks, you can see Saturn's shadow move from one side of its rings to the other. And there's a way to describe just how non-circular an object's orbit is.
06:11
July 03, 2022
Mercury leaving the morning meeting, lunar orbital points converge, and Earth at aphelion
Mercury leaving the morning meeting, lunar orbital points converge, and Earth at aphelion
Mercury's on the way out of the morning meeting of planets. Three of the moon's orbital points come together this week. And Earth is farthest away from the sun.
05:59
June 26, 2022
The loneliest star and the arrow
The loneliest star and the arrow
A southern star is known as the loneliest star, although it's well liked by navigators who perform their craft with sextants. And an arrow flies overhead, but it doesn't come from the constellation known as the archer.
06:59
June 19, 2022
The morning planet lineup stays good, and get ready for the solstice
The morning planet lineup stays good, and get ready for the solstice
The naked eye planets are in order in the morning sky. Uranus and Neptune break the order, but they're there too. And get ready for the solstice.
05:12
June 12, 2022
Mercury moves more into the morning meeting; Antares and Scorpius
Mercury moves more into the morning meeting; Antares and Scorpius
The naked eye planets are in order in the morning sky. Mercury moves in a little farther. Antares is the heart of the scorpion.
04:51
June 05, 2022
An orderly planetary lineup and a dolphin's service remembered
An orderly planetary lineup and a dolphin's service remembered
The naked eye planets in our morning lineup can be seen in the same order in the sky that they are in distance from the sun. Old stories tell of the dolphin among the constellations and the animal's service to other beings, including a human in trouble. About two centuries ago, two never previously known star names showed up in a published star catalog. The person who named them took the secret of their origins to his grave. But the names are accepted today and the mystery is solved. Listen to find out more.
05:54
May 29, 2022
The lesser known celestial dogs, moon at the nodes
The lesser known celestial dogs, moon at the nodes
The moon helps you identify the planets in the morning lineup. You've surely heard of Canis Major and Canis Minor. But there are two other celestial dogs: Canes Venatici. An almanac may tell you when the moon is at ascending node or descending node. SkyCaramba tells you what that means.
04:42
May 22, 2022
Polaris
Polaris
The morning planet show continues. A reminder about this week's total lunar eclipse. And despite its reputation, the North Star isn't the brightest star in the night sky. But the star with that distinction will eventually be the South Star.
04:35
May 15, 2022
Total Lunar Eclipse and Clawing Into Libra's Star Names
Total Lunar Eclipse and Clawing Into Libra's Star Names
Next week, from Sunday night to Monday morning (exact times vary by where you are), the moon will spend almost an hour-and-a-half in the central part of Earth's shadow. The eclipsed moon will be next to Libra. The constellation represents the scales of justice. The scales don't have claws, but three of Libra's stars' names contain an old word for claw.
06:21
May 08, 2022
Planetary lineup continues, Mercury in the evening, Eta Aquariids, Berenices's Hair
Planetary lineup continues, Mercury in the evening, Eta Aquariids, Berenices's Hair
That amazing morning meeting of planets continues. Mercury maintains its place in the evening. The most famous comet is almost as far from the sun as it gets, but it's responsible for a meteor shower that doesn't depend much on the comet's closeness. Brush up on your knowledge of Berenice's Hair.
05:25
May 01, 2022
A southern solar eclipse, Virgo, and Astronomy Day
A southern solar eclipse, Virgo, and Astronomy Day
Some South American and southern Pacific Ocean sky watchers get to see a solar eclipse this week. Use eye protection! Who's Virgo? The constellation was different women to different ancient cultures. Astronomy Day is coming.
06:01
April 24, 2022
April Lyrids and comet names
April Lyrids and comet names
Morning sky watching continues to be wondrous. Evening isn't so bad either lately. Get ready for the April Lyrids meteor shower. And just why do comets have such long, strange names now?
03:50
April 17, 2022
The full spectrum
The full spectrum
There's more to sunlight than meets the eye. About two centuries ago, a thermometer next to a prism helped a scientist see our home star in a new light.
05:55
April 10, 2022
More morning lineup, when the sun acts up
More morning lineup, when the sun acts up
Mercury soon returns to the evening sky as a morning planet lineup continues. Expect more sunspots, solar flares, and aurorae over the next few years. Aurorae are mesmerizing sky sights that happen when solar particles hit Earth's upper atmosphere. But sometimes, the sun throws off enough material to cause serious problems on Earth's surface.
05:37
April 03, 2022
Jupiter gets hard to see, the seamstress and cowherder in the sky, Arcturus and the World's Fair
Jupiter gets hard to see, the seamstress and cowherder in the sky, Arcturus and the World's Fair
Jupiter is leaving our morning lineup. Two stars on opposite sides of the Milky Way stream represent separated lovers. An orange star helped kick off a World's Fair
03:26
March 27, 2022
The ecliptic and the equator
The ecliptic and the equator
Some sky watchers may catch Jupiter and Mercury very close this week as the morning planet lineup continues. Uranus remains in the evening sky. The week begins with the solstice and Venus at greatest elongation. Just like latitude and longitude lines on an earth map, there are lines showing where to plot points to represent starts, planets, and other object on a sky map. Find out about the two coordinate systems.
05:29
March 20, 2022
Stars and legends of the Big Dipper
Stars and legends of the Big Dipper
One of the most famous star patterns isn't considered a constellation in its own right. But it's so easily recognized, many people have told stories about it and surely will for as long as they can see the stars. Two of the stars in the Big Dipper's handle were said to foretell life or death. That handle is a bear's tail. But for a bear's tail, it's very long. And there's a tale about that.
05:09
March 13, 2022
Morning meetup, four planets in one constellation, and a little about Aries
Morning meetup, four planets in one constellation, and a little about Aries
The morning planet meetup continues. For barely one full day, four planets will be within the boundaries of one constellation. Learn a little about Aries, a constellation that's setting not long after the sun this time of year.
04:59
March 06, 2022
Morning planet meetup continues, quick measurements
Morning planet meetup continues, quick measurements
The morning meetup of planets continues. The moon joins the party. How to quickly measure angular distances in the sky.
04:59
February 27, 2022
Morning merriment; the crab
Morning merriment; the crab
The naked eye planet watching is very interesting these mornings, especially from near the equator and in the southern hemisphere. The crab remembered in the constellation Cancer did a bold enough thing to be put on the celestial dome, but he didn't earn any medals in the form of bright stars. In fact, his mission failed.
04:50
February 20, 2022
The Unicorn
The Unicorn
Goodbye, Jupiter. See you some morning. Three planets are still in a morning triangle. Full moon in Leo. The unicorn has existed in stories for thousands of years, but it didn't exist among the constellations until fairly recently.
04:13
February 13, 2022
More morning migration; the sextant; Perseus and Andromeda
More morning migration; the sextant; Perseus and Andromeda
The naked eye planets continue migrating to the morning sky. Two constellations are named after things you'd look at the sky with. One is the sextant. The old legends say Perseus rescued Andromeda from a sea monster. They still circle the north celestial pole together.
05:34
February 06, 2022
Lepus the hare
Lepus the hare
Naked eye planet watching is coming to an end in the evening, but you may see Uranus and Neptune. Find out where Venus and Mars are in the morning. One of them is by a shield. And learn about the hare or rabbit at Orion's feet.
05:00
January 30, 2022
Sirius things to think about
Sirius things to think about
The planet watching continues to migrate to the morning. Astronomers realized in 1844 that Sirius has a companion star. But it took 18 years before anyone built a telescope that could reveal it. Sky watchers of long ago described Sirius as red. Why would they say that when the star is bluish-white?
05:06
January 23, 2022
Gemini and Jimmy Carter's Unidentified Flying Planet
Gemini and Jimmy Carter's Unidentified Flying Planet
Venus moves into the morning with Mars. Mercury's leaving the evening with Saturn in its wake. Jupiter's not ready to go just yet. Many of the legends of Gemini say one twin is immortal but the other isn't. Learn about some stars in the constellation. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter claims to have seen a strange light in the sky one night in 1969. He doesn't think it was a spacecraft. Neither do most of the UFO researchers who've studied the case, although he disagrees with their assessment of what it was.
06:10
January 16, 2022
Orion, Colorfully Named Iris and a River Runs Through It
Orion, Colorfully Named Iris and a River Runs Through It
Venus begins its ingress into the morning sky. Saturn's on its way out of the evening. A colorfully named asteroid, Iris, is at opposition this week. Orion is the most recognizable constellation and now's the best time of year to get to know him. A river is an important part of many ancient Greek legends whose characters are represented in our constellation maps. So, of course, it makes sense to have a river up there too.
06:06
January 09, 2022
Quadrantids, Earth at perihelion, planets hiding planets
Quadrantids, Earth at perihelion, planets hiding planets
The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks this week. Earth is closest to the sun. The moon passes in front of planets somewhat often. Planets passing in front of other planets? Every once in a few lifetimes.
06:29
January 02, 2022
Amazingly afar Andromeda
Amazingly afar Andromeda
Most of the naked eye planets are congregating in the evening sky this week. December evenings are also a good time to see the Andromeda Galaxy. A century ago, astronomers weren't sure what it was. When one astronomer noticed something the rest missed, he blew their minds.
07:39
December 26, 2021
Mercury meek in the evening, Comet Leonard approaches the sun, and Star of Bethlehem
Mercury meek in the evening, Comet Leonard approaches the sun, and Star of Bethlehem
Mercury is an evening object, but you'll have trouble finding it. Comet Leonard enters Microscopium as its orbital position takes it closer to the sun. A popular question this time of year is what was the Star of Bethlehem. Most of the possible answers don't actually involve stars. When they do, they involve planets too.
06:33
December 19, 2021
Comet Leonard enters the evening and how asteroids are named
Comet Leonard enters the evening and how asteroids are named
Fast-moving Comet Leonard becomes an evening object this week. Venus slows its march eastward to turn around. The Geminid meteor shower peaks. If you ever discover an asteroid, you'll get to name it after yourself, someone else, a place, or a thing. But it's not a case of anything goes. And it's not a fast process.
05:21
December 12, 2021
Geminid Meteor Mystery and Preserving Darkness
Geminid Meteor Mystery and Preserving Darkness
Sooner is better than later for seeing this year's Geminid meteors. Consider the mystery about where the Geminids come from. They're not associated with a comet. Be considerate when using outdoor lighting. It's not just astronomy that depends on a proper light.
06:38
December 05, 2021
Three planets in the evening, Mars in the morning, Comet Leonard, Antarctic eclipse
Three planets in the evening, Mars in the morning, Comet Leonard, Antarctic eclipse
Three planets are in our evening sky. Mars is emerging into the morning dome. Try to see Comet Leonard. And Antarctica gets a solar eclipse.
05:17
November 28, 2021
Thanksgiving skies of 400 years ago and an Antarctic eclipse
Thanksgiving skies of 400 years ago and an Antarctic eclipse
It's been 400 years since the harvest celebration that inspired the American Thanksgiving holiday. What did the pilgrims and the Wampanoag see in the sky in 1621? Antarctica and places nearby get a solar eclipse.
05:34
November 21, 2021
Spilling the facts on Aquarius
Spilling the facts on Aquarius
Aquarius has represented spilling water since the Babylonians looked up and saw one of their gods emptying a jug.
05:30
November 14, 2021
A nearly total lunar eclipse
A nearly total lunar eclipse
Next week, the moon will delve almost as deeply as it can into Earth's shadow without a total eclipse. Find out where you can see it and what time it happens. Also, keep up on what's happening with Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, and Mars.
05:30
November 07, 2021
See Ceres
See Ceres
You certainly heard about Pluto being demoted to dwarf planet status in 2006. But the news about Ceres being promoted to that status didn't get nearly as much attention. (This edition has been edited to remove the incorrect date for Ceres' close pass by Aldebaran. The correct information is they will be closest at 0.1° apart on the 3rd. My apologies for the error.) Venus crosses the teapot lid. Saturn and Jupiter hang out in Capricornus. The moon helps you find Mercury. Uranus is up all night this week.
05:04
October 31, 2021
Getting closer to and farther from the sun at the same time
Getting closer to and farther from the sun at the same time
Venus is getting closer to the sun, but you'd never know that from the way things look lately. The deceptive view of the solar system we get from Earth made it hard for sky watchers to figure out how the planets actually move.
06:00
October 24, 2021
Emerging Mercury and Mars; Spy on Jupiter's spot; Venus by Ophiuchus; the Hyades
Emerging Mercury and Mars; Spy on Jupiter's spot; Venus by Ophiuchus; the Hyades
Mercury is emerging into the morning sky and will soon be joined by Mars. Try to spy on Jupiter's "Great Red Spot". It's not actually red. Venus goes through the southern end of Ophiuchus, the zodiac constellation most people don't know about. Get to know the Hyades.
05:00
October 17, 2021
Venus is the scorpion's head, Lacerta, and more about Mira and Algol
Venus is the scorpion's head, Lacerta, and more about Mira and Algol
This week's astronomical action: Venus passes through the scorpion's head. The moon passes in front of the archer's bow. Jupiter and Saturn keep hanging out in Capricornus. Naming a new constellation after a reptile turned out to be more popular than naming it after any king. And how did one variable star get the name of something fearsome but another is called wonderful?
05:00
October 10, 2021
A splendid clutter in Scorpius, opposite behavior by stars on opposite sides of the sky, the wonderful fading star
A splendid clutter in Scorpius, opposite behavior by stars on opposite sides of the sky, the wonderful fading star
Watch Venus and the moon making a nice cluster--or clutter--in Scorpius. Opposite behavior by stars on opposite sides of the sky from the same cause. Not all variable stars are thought to be ghoulish. One is considered to be wonderful.
05:00
October 03, 2021
Daytime meteor shower, Venus goes through the diamond, and Capricornus
Daytime meteor shower, Venus goes through the diamond, and Capricornus
You won't be able to see it, but there's a meteor shower this week. It happens in the daytime. Venus goes through the Libra diamond. Astronomy tails and tales. Don't panic or you might end up like Capricornus the goat-fish.
05:00
September 26, 2021
Equal day and night--or not
Equal day and night--or not
What you've heard your whole life about day and night being of exactly equal length on the equinox is wrong. I'll tell you why. And remember that myth about eggs standing up on their ends only on the equinox? For some reason, the myth only considers the March equinox. Follow Venus into the evening sky and see Jupiter and Saturn nearly all night.
05:00
September 19, 2021
Algol, the demon star
Algol, the demon star
What would you think of a star that blinks? Maybe you'd think there's something sinister about it. That's how Algol got it's name. It's from Arabic for the demon. To the ancient Greeks, Algol was a blinking eye of Medusa. Before that, the ancient Egyptians may have thought of the star as a bringer of luck--good or bad depending on when the eye of Horus looked upon them. Algol still blinks. Listen to this podcast to understand why and then go see it for yourself. Neptune is at opposition this week. Mercury's at greatest elongation. Mars remains hidden. Jupiter and Saturn dominate most of the night.
05:00
September 12, 2021
Zodiacal light
Zodiacal light
This is the time of year to see the dawn before the dawn. Depending on the circumstances, this faint glow might make you think the sun is rising sooner than it is or that you're approaching a city when there's just open country ahead.
05:00
September 05, 2021
September 2021 astronomical events
September 2021 astronomical events
Mercury moves farther into the evening sky and Venus scoots along Virgo while Mars is elusive in the evening light. Jupiter and Saturn are retrograde in Capricornus. Neptune's at opposition. Earth's at equinox.
05:00
August 29, 2021
Northern solstice on Mars and interstellar space
Northern solstice on Mars and interstellar space
Mars is at its northern solstice. There's more to space than what we see orbiting stars. And between the stars, there's more than just nothing. Mars and Mercury start the week close. Venus voyages through Virgo. The moon with Jupiter and Saturn. And try to find Neptune.
05:00
August 22, 2021
A traditional blue moon, Mars and Mercury meet up, and identifying satellites
A traditional blue moon, Mars and Mercury meet up, and identifying satellites
A traditional blue moon is coming up. That's not the second full moon of the month. Mars and Mercury are close this week. And learn how to identify the satellites and space junk you see going overhead.
05:00
August 15, 2021
Zavijava, Perseids, Cygnus
Zavijava, Perseids, Cygnus
Venus passes by a star named Zavijava this week. The name is fun to say. Find out what it means. Viewing this year's Perseids meteor shower should be good. A celestial swan flies high in the August evening skies. Hear some of the old legends about how it got there.
05:00
August 08, 2021
August 2021's astronomical events and the martyr's tears
August 2021's astronomical events and the martyr's tears
There are a couple of close pairings this month--Venus and Zavijava and then Mars and Mercury. Saturn and Jupiter are both at opposition. Northern hemisphere viewers have a chance to see the northern and southern crowns. Several animal constellations feature well this month. And there's a meteor shower that produces what some call the tears of St. Lawrence.
05:00
August 01, 2021
Precovery
Precovery
In astronomy, the person who first sees an object isn't necessarily the person who gets credit for discovering it. The discoverer is the one who recognizes it as something new or different. If you think it's a star, but someone else figures out it's a planet, you'll be lucky to get a footnote for "precovery" in a chapter about someone else's discovery. Usually, only a few years pass between precovery and discovery. But in one case, several astronomers saw an object and called it a star for more than two centuries before someone realized what it really was.
05:00
July 25, 2021
Orders of Magnitude
Orders of Magnitude
It doesn't make sense that stars shining at magnitude 31.5 are among the dimmest the Hubble Space Telescope can see, while one shining at 0 is one of the brightest in the sky. And objects with magnitudes below 0 are even brighter! How can the lower number mean a brighter body? It starts making sense when you understand how this measurement system got started more than 2,000 years ago. And find out what's happening in the sky the week of July 18 through 24, 2021.
05:00
July 18, 2021
Coriolis Effect
Coriolis Effect
A popular misconception says toilet water goes one way in the northern hemisphere and the other way in the southern hemisphere. Unless your toilet's a giant lake, its location doesn't make a difference. Follow Venus and Mars in the evening sky while Jupiter and Saturn continue rising earlier.
05:00
July 11, 2021
Sagittarius
Sagittarius
A half-man, half-horse crosses southern skies. Much of the world only gets a partial view of him. In the northern hemisphere, the visible part of this constellation looks like something we keep in our kitchens. And find out what to expect from Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury this week.
05:00
July 04, 2021
July 2021 astronomical events
July 2021 astronomical events
Venus meets Mars in the evening sky. Jupiter and Saturn continue their morning co-dominance. And they help out with identification of two meteor showers. Mercury moves into the morning. Also, there's an upcoming anniversary of a total solar eclipse associated with a hit song. Are people mistakenly thinking the song is about that event?
05:00
June 27, 2021
Antares and Sagitta
Antares and Sagitta
On the way from Earth to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, one would pass a bright orange star that happens to be the bright star in Scorpius. An arrow crosses the night sky this time of year. Several ancient legends tell who may have shot it and who might have been its target. And find out what to look for in the skies the week of June 20 to 26, 2021
05:00
June 20, 2021
Berenice's Hair and Earth at Aphelion
Berenice's Hair and Earth at Aphelion
An ancient world story tells us that when some priests were in a "hairy" situation, an astronomer saved their lives by pointing out a faint yet majestic patch of stars. It may be getting warmer where you live, but Earth is almost as far away from the sun as it gets. Astronomical sights for the week of June 13 to 19, 2021
05:00
June 13, 2021
Annular solar eclipse of June 10--and more
Annular solar eclipse of June 10--and more
Lucky people along a certain path from part of Russia, across the North Pole, to North America get to see an annular solar eclipse this week. Some people may be able to detect the eclipse, even though the sun won't be up, by its effect on the dawn's light. Also, watch Venus and Mars making their way into the evening sky. And next week, the moon will pass near the asteroid Vesta.
05:00
June 06, 2021
June 2021 astronomical events
June 2021 astronomical events
Mercury retreats from the evening sky. Venus pursues Mars through a beehive. Saturn and Jupiter share a morning reign. And Mercury reappears before dawn. Meanwhile, there's a solar eclipse and a daytime meteor shower.
05:00
May 30, 2021
The Second Most Important Star in the Sky and Sidereal Days
The Second Most Important Star in the Sky and Sidereal Days
The second most important star in the sky is up all night this time of year. And perhaps you've heard of the day length that's about four minutes short of 24 hours.
05:00
May 23, 2021
Total Lunar Eclipse, Ten Year Astronomy Survey, and Wasat?
Total Lunar Eclipse, Ten Year Astronomy Survey, and Wasat?
We have a total lunar eclipse this month. Find out if you have a chance to see it. The results of an astronomy survey done every ten year are being compiled. Some new space telescopes could be built because of astronomers' answers. And Wasat? Seriously, there's a star called Wasat.
05:00
May 16, 2021
Measuring Distances to the Stars, Gemini
Measuring Distances to the Stars, Gemini
Most of the stars we see in our night sky are within a few hundred light years of us. There's one in Cassiopeia right at the edge of naked eye visibility that's more than 16,000 light years away. And you don't see the individual stars in the Andromeda Galaxy, but it's more than two million light years away. Just how do astronomers know how far away any stars are when we can't travel to them, let alone unroll a tape measure? Also learn about Gemini, the twins Castor and Pollux.
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May 09, 2021
May's morning zoo and Messier objects
May's morning zoo and Messier objects
Two horses (one with wings), a dolphin, a pair of fish, an eagle, a wolf, and a swan are part of the celestial May morning menagerie. And find out where the M comes from in object names like M44.
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May 02, 2021
May 2021 astronomical events
May 2021 astronomical events
In May 2021: Mercury and Venus are evening objects, Mars visits the twins, Saturn and Jupiter shine in the morning, and there's a total lunar eclipse.
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April 25, 2021
The April astronomical shower and seeing over the horizon
The April astronomical shower and seeing over the horizon
A comet discovered about 150 years ago has left traces of its existence for us to see for thousands of years. Get ready for the April Lyrid meteor shower. And when you see the sun or moon rise or set, you're seeing it over the horizon.
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April 18, 2021
Blinded by the Sight
Blinded by the Sight
The beliefs we cling to most are the ones we convince ourselves of. Percival Lowell's conclusions about canals on Mars and Venus are examples. What did he really see?
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April 11, 2021
Dark Skies and Venutian Phases
Dark Skies and Venutian Phases
Many people, even some who like astronomy, do something that's harmful to it. Our modern lifestyles require lighting at night. But do we really need so many lights on in so many places casting so much light where it's not useful? Light pollution keeps us from enjoying the night sky--a most wondrous natural resource above us. And we don't talk about a full Venus or a first quarter Venus. But somewhat like the moon, the planet has phases.
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April 04, 2021
April 2021 astronomical events
April 2021 astronomical events
Venus is an evening object again, and Mercury will join it. But both are horizon huggers. Mars is easier to see as it moves from Taurus to the feet of Gemini. Saturn and Jupiter are getting easier to see in the morning. If you're in the right place on April 2nd, you can see Jupiter pass right in front of a star. The April Lyrids meteor shower peaks this month. There's a so-called supermoon. And Uranus goes into conjunction with the sun. Also, a little extra information about the word asteroid. Maybe we should say planetoid.
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March 28, 2021
The Real Planet Vulcan
The Real Planet Vulcan
If someone mentions the planet Vulcan now, you probably think of the fictional world that's home to Mr. Spock on Star Trek. But there was a time when some astronomers believed there was a real planet they called Vulcan orbiting our sun.
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March 21, 2021
Leo Minor, The Egg and the Equinox, and No Green Stars
Leo Minor, The Egg and the Equinox, and No Green Stars
You never hear much about the constellation Leo Minor.  A legend claims you can balance an egg on its end only on the equinox. And have you noticed there are no green stars?
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March 14, 2021
Meteors and Near-Earth Asteroids
Meteors and Near-Earth Asteroids
Every once in a while, you hear about something from space that might crash into the earth. It happens just often enough to make some of us worry about it.
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March 07, 2021
March 2021 astronomical events
March 2021 astronomical events
This month, a cluster of planets rises shortly before the sun, the southern hemisphere gets a good view of Mercury, Mars passes by the Pleiades, Venus is atypically invisible, the asteroid Vesta is at opposition, and Earth goes through an equinox.
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February 28, 2021
Project Corona
Project Corona
At the end of February 1959, the U.S. government told the world it had launched a satellite that made some measurements, transmitted some measurement data, and then shut down as planned. Documents declassified in 1995 reveal the satellite malfunctioned shortly after launch and apparently crashed. Other formerly secret materials, including a CIA film, reveal that the engineers stayed busy solving problem after problem just learning how to get a satellite up and then use it to replace spy planes.
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February 21, 2021
Radio Astronomy's Beginning
Radio Astronomy's Beginning
One of the accidental discoveries that spawned the field of radio astronomy stayed secret for a few years. There was a war going on. And the enemy could have used the newfound astronomical knowledge for a military advantage.
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February 14, 2021
Clyde Tombaugh
Clyde Tombaugh
It seems unlikely that a farm boy who can't afford his own telescope, let alone a college education, could go to work for an astronomical observatory and make one of the most famous discoveries. But that's what Clyde Tombaugh did. Learn about the man who discovered Pluto.
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February 07, 2021
February 2021 astronomical events
February 2021 astronomical events
Mercury starts the month as an evening object, but you'll find it in the morning near Jupiter and Saturn by the end of the month. Venus stays low close to the horizon before sunrise. Meanwhile, Mars continues a trek toward the Pleiades. Expect news about a couple space probes arriving at the red planet this month. And on another subject, why do you suppose some ancient writers described Sirius as a red star when it's bluish-white?
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January 31, 2021
Mercurial Mercury and Sirius Stuff
Mercurial Mercury and Sirius Stuff
Mercury never rests. The planet has been thought of as quick and sneaky like a thief or fast and dutiful like a messenger. Learn a little about it. And then hear about Sirius. The brightest star in our night sky has a dim companion. Astronomers knew about it for 18 years before they had big enough telescopes to see it. Then, some people claimed to have known about the companion for even longer.
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January 24, 2021
Orion
Orion
Orion is one of the biggest and most recognizable constellations. This is a great time of year to see it. Learn about some of the stars and a stellar nursery in it.
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January 17, 2021
Mars and Uranus come close
Mars and Uranus come close
Mars is passing close to Uranus. Uranus is harder to see, but having something familiar close by can help you identify it. Unfortunately, another familiar object--the first quarter moon--is going to cast a lot of light into the view and make things hard. Listen here for a workaround and to find out more about the red planet and the blue one.
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January 10, 2021
January 2021's astronomical events
January 2021's astronomical events
Most planet viewing will be a challenge this month. But you may see Mars close to Uranus. You can also get to know some of the winter constellations at their best.
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January 03, 2021
Get to Know Your New Telescope
Get to Know Your New Telescope
Did you get a new telescope for the holidays? Get to know it so you can get the most out of it. Here are some tips.
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December 27, 2020
The Star of Bethlehem
The Star of Bethlehem
Many people ask this time of year what the Star of Bethlehem was. Most of the explanations don't consider it as a star at all. A comet, a conjunction of two planets, and a lunar eclipse are all considered in this podcast.
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December 20, 2020
Solstice and lunistice
Solstice and lunistice
The December solstice is the winter solstice to some, the summer solstice to others. Learn why solstices happen and how they relate to certain lines on maps and globes. Also learn about the corresponding lunar phenomenon called the lunistice.
04:60
December 13, 2020
The Andromeda Nebula
The Andromeda Nebula
A century ago, universe and galaxy were interchangeable words. And most scientists thought the entire universe was only 30,000 light years across. Then an astronomer noticed something everyone else had missed in photographs of a particular nebula. When he calculated how far away it is, minds were blown. And it turns out, what he saw is even farther away than he thought. And today, a telescope named after him enables us to see many times farther than that.
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December 06, 2020
December 2020 astronomical events
December 2020 astronomical events
Events this month include a total solar eclipse, the Great Conjunction of 2020, a couple meteor showers, Earth at solstice, and more.
04:60
November 29, 2020
Penumbral eclipse, Aldebaran, and the coming great conjunction
Penumbral eclipse, Aldebaran, and the coming great conjunction
There'll be a penumbral lunar eclipse on November 30th. Here's a reminder about what to look for and when. The moon will be near an orange star called Aldebaran. And a reminder about the great conjunction of 2020 coming in December.
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November 22, 2020
The Pleiades
The Pleiades
A stellar kite flies high during the evening this time of year. Most people see just six Pleiades with the naked eye. But legends from around the world tell of seven people or other beings represented there. Some cultures have explanations for why one is hiding or missing. Find out what the first nations people of North America and Australia, as well as the Greeks and others say about these stars.
04:60
November 15, 2020
Leonid meteor showers
Leonid meteor showers
The most famous meteor shower--the Leonids--happens in November. Astronomers never used to be interested in meteors. Then one morning, there was a Leonid meteor shower so intense, it terrified! And it taught. Astronomers learned that meteors are, in fact, astronomical phenomena. They have a relationship with comets.
04:60
November 08, 2020
November 2020 astronomical events
November 2020 astronomical events
Jupiter goes after Saturn before their best conjunction in almost 400 years. Mars “swims” with the fishes. Venus and Mercury delight in the morning sky. The Leonid meteors are due for their annual show, but how great will the show be? The month ends with a penumbral eclipse. And maybe we get to see a comet in small telescopes this month.
04:60
November 01, 2020
Venus and Mercury at perihelion and blue moons
Venus and Mercury at perihelion and blue moons
Venus and Mercury will go through perihelion--their closest points to the sun--just days apart. The timing is a coincidence. But here's why planets have perihelia. Also, you might have heard that besides happening on Halloween, this week's full moon is called a blue moon. That term is popular now because of a mistake in a magazine in the 1940s.
04:60
October 25, 2020
Mercury at inferior conjunction; the moon passes Jupiter and Saturn
Mercury at inferior conjunction; the moon passes Jupiter and Saturn
Superior and inferior don't mean better than and worse than when we're talking about astronomical events. Find out what it means when one of the inner planets is at inferior conjunction like Mercury will be soon. And watch the moon pass Jupiter and Saturn this week. The two planets are getting closer to each other until their very close call in December.
04:60
October 18, 2020
The Great Conjunction of 2020
The Great Conjunction of 2020
Jupiter and Saturn are close together in the evening sky and getting closer. In just a couple months, they'll be the closest they've been in nearly four centuries. You can see this great conjunction for yourself. And with modern technology, you can experience great conjunctions of long ago or a long time from now.
04:60
October 11, 2020
Mars at opposition 2020
Mars at opposition 2020
Mars is at opposition on October 14. This happens every two years and provides a good view of the red planet, because it's up all night and it's closest to Earth. We know what we're looking at when we see Mars now. But something an astronomer thought he saw during the opposition of 1877 and someone else's mistake translating his writings got some people thinking there were intelligent beings there.
04:60
October 04, 2020
SkyCaramba - Halloween Full Moons
SkyCaramba - Halloween Full Moons
How often do Halloween full moons happen? Listen to find out that and why the answer is slightly more complicated than you might think.
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September 29, 2020