Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekly SkyWatcher's Forecast: April 30-May 6, 2012

Greetings, fellow SkyWatchers! Are you ready for another week filled with bright planets, a meteor shower, challenging lunar features, interesting stars and astronomy history? Then you have come to the right place! Bring along your telescopes and binoculars and meet me in the backyard...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dark Matter Theories Come Up Short

By studying the motion of the Milky Way's stars, researchers have learned there is not a lot of evidence for dark matter around the Sun. Current hypothesis have the solar neighborhood teeming with dark matter - an invisible enigma which is detected through its gravitational force. However, new research done by a team of astronomers in Chile have pointed out that the theories just don't match the facts. Chances are good that we'll never be able to directly detect dark matter particles with terrestrially based equipment.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekly SkyWatcher's Forecast: April 23-29, 2012

Greetings, fellow SkyWatchers! What a great week to just enjoy some great unaided eye astronomy observations. Who can resist the beautiful appearance of Mars in Leo? Also this week, you'll enjoy not one - but two - meteor showers as the Mu Virginids come to town mid-week and the Bootids light up the weekend. Get ready to enjoy bright stars, find planets, explore lunar features, learn some astronomy history and much more! When ever you're ready, meet me in the back yard...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 14-20, 2012 Designated As International Dark Sky Week

No matter where we live, both professional and amateur astronomers alike are keenly aware of light pollution and its affects. Not only does artificial lighting wash out the natural beauty of the starry night sky, it is responsible for environmental problems which can hamper everything from hatching sea turtles to migrating birds. Even though it’s a scary situation, it is one than can easily be solved by using common sense and shielded lighting. But how do we get people to become aware of the problem?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Weekly SkyWatcher's Forecast - April 16-22, 2012

Greetings, fellow SkyWatchers! It's going to be a great - and dark - week to enjoy astronomy! We'll start off with an impressive galaxy for even small optics and enjoy two meteor shower. There's planets and planetary nebula to explore, as well as some awesome globular clusters. If you're in the mood, there's some history to learn and plenty of astronomy facts! Whenever you're ready, meet me in the back yard...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Not A Snowball’s Chance In Hell…

Over the last three decades astronomers have seen thousands of comets falling into the Sun. For the most part, they’re too small to survive a close approach – let alone re-emerge. It has only been within recent years that these icy travelers have been observed near the glaring Sun. Now a team of scientists led by Professor Emeritus John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland and former Regius Professor of Astronomy at Glasgow University, have been able to pinpoint which ones are destroyed high above the solar atmosphere, which ones are annihilated just above the surface and which ones make it through their hellish journey.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weekly SkyWatcher's Forecast: April 9-15, 2012

Greetings, fellow SkyWatchers! It's shaping up to be a great week to enjoy astronomy. For both hemispheres, the Virginid Meteor shower is underway and its peak occurs late Monday night / early Tuesday morning. Need more celestial fireworks? Then keep looking up as the "April Fireballs" will be visiting, with their peak beginning about a week from today and lasting for 24 days. Even if you only catch one of these bright travelers as they sparkle across the starry sky, it will make your night! But hang on, there will be plenty to explore. Bright stars and bright planets are featured - as well as some of the season's best galaxies. Keep your telescope out and don't get spooked, because the "Ghost of Jupiter" will be a challenge object! If you want to know more about astonomy history, and what you can see with just your eyes and your optics, then meet me in the back yard...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Titanium Testing Reveals Moon Is Earth’s Baby

Even though it has been some four decades since the Apollo mission returned to Earth with their precious cargo of lunar soil and rock samples, these old samples are still teaching us new things. According to a recent study of Moon matter, the chemical signature blows away the common theory that the Moon was a product of a collision. According to the giant impactor scenario, the Moon may have formed when Earth and a hypothetical Mars-sized body referred to as “Theia” collided some 4.5 billion years ago. However, graduate student, Junjun Zhang of the University of Chicago, may prove otherwise. By analyzing the titanium content of lunar samples, Earth and meteorites, she speculates the Moon’s composition comes solely from Earth.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Weekly SkyWatcher's Forecast: April 2-8, 2012

Greetings, fellow SkyWatchers! Despite the Moon, it will be a great week as the month of April opens with two meteor showers. The planetary action doesn't stop, because Venus is about to become a "guest star" in the Pleiades! Need more? Then know it's the right time of year to spot aurora - and to gather photons from bright star clusters! Get out your binoculars and telescopes and meet me in the back yard...