BCAS

Greetings, my name is Brenda Harvey and I am a Volunteer Solar System Ambassador with NASA/JPL. As part of my job I get to inform my community of NASA happenings.

NOAO/AURA/NSF Local Group Survey Team and T.A. Rector

When hot summer days yield to cool, pleasant nights, late summer evenings provide some of the best opportunities for star gazing. The constellations of summer and early autumn contain some of the finest examples of the various types of astronomical objects.

Eugene Cernan/NASA

In July,1969, NASA first landed men on the Moon, attaining humanity’s first ever visit to another world.

NASA

Globular star clusters form a huge halo around the Milky Way Galaxy. If we resided at the center of our Galaxy, we would see them in every direction. However, we reside not in the center, but more than half way to the edge. We therefore view them in the direction of the galactic center, which we see best in summer. They are almost totally absent in the winter sky.

Earlier this year we lost a space exploration giant. Or better yet, a small robot. On February 13, 2019 we said a final farewell to our good pal, the Mars Opportunity Rover. That day, NASA’s last attempt to reach the rover failed. Its mission finally ended. If it had a burial site, its epitaph may read something like “Opportunity Rover: Roll on Good Robot” or “Here lies Opportunity, a real life Wall-E.”

On June 13, 2010 a bright fireball streaked across the sky over Australia. Was this a meteor or an errant piece of space junk burning up in Earth’s atmosphere? Actually, none of the above. It was Japan’s Hayabusa space probe returning to Earth at 25,000 m.p.h., after visiting the asteroid Itokawa.

A few months ago, we toured the Galactic Menagerie in the sky.  Today, let’s take flight and do some birdwatching!

EHT Collaboration

One of the mathematical outcomes of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is that an object with sufficiently high density will have such strong gravity that nothing, not even light, can escape. This is a ‘black hole.’

NASA

If April showers bring May flowers, what do meteor showers bring?

Scorpius over Norwood, CO and Lone Cone Mountain
Braden Barkemeyer

Just over a century ago there were no electric lights and no light-pollution. For millennia, anyone looking into a nighttime sky would see the Moon, 5 planets, and stars – lots and lots of stars.

If you were asked to picture the most fascinating thing named Mercury, what would come to mind?

Year 2019 is in full swing and features some eye-catching astronomical events.

National Park Service

Over my ranger career, I’ve been posted at some of the most spectacular locations on the planet. Grand Teton, Zion, Everglades, Wind Cave, and the Black Canyon, conjure up images of grand landscapes, wildlife, and history. At each park, I’ve talked to visitors from Topeka, to Tacoma, to Tampa. As you might expect, they come with questions - "How deep is the canyon?" "What animals might I see?" and, of course, the ever urgent "WHERE IS THE RESTROOM?!"

Looking toward the eastern horizon on a cool, mid-November evening the Autumn constellations are on prominent display while those of Winter are just starting to rise, and the constellations of Summer are setting in the west. Almost due east is the bright star Capella, in the constellation Auriga. Between Auriga and the constellation Andromeda lies the constellation Perseus, known for the famous double cluster and Algol, the Demon star.

This may be a great year to see summertime meteors.

Ricky Smith

These days, most of us spend our evenings retreating to our favorite corners of the Internet. Our chosen cyber spaces are often unique, different from those of our family members, coworkers, and neighbors. Each of us jokes about distinct factions of pop culture. It’s easy to feel disconnected, like there are no unifying experiences left. And yet, if we crave connections and shared experiences, all we have to do is find a dark spot and tilt our heads to the sky.

According to National Geographic, ninety-nine percent of the population of the U.S. and Europe can’t see the Milky Way from their homes. That makes many of us here on the Western Slope very special!  Feels good to be part of the one percent, doesn’t it?

Art Trevena/BCAS

High in our winter evening sky you’ll find the 6th-brightest star, yellow-white Capella, along with other stars of the constellation Auriga.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

It’s mid-February, and love is in the air. But for some constellations, it seems love can be blue.

With Winter fast approaching, with its long cold nights, the month of December may not seem to be an ideal time for star gazing. Fortunately, those willing to brave the cold will be amply rewarded by views of the most magnificent constellation in the sky, the brightest star, as well as a famous nebula. 

Art Trevena/BCAS

Have you ever looked at a full or gibbous Moon through binoculars or a telescope? If so, you may have noticed some bright streaks that radiate outward from a few bright craters.

Johannes Kepler published the Laws of Planetary Motion in the 17th century. In combination with Newton’s Law of Gravity, scientists still use these laws to determine the motion of objects around a larger object, including planets and suns in other solar systems. These exo-planets, so-termed because they are external to our solar system, have become an area of research in recent years.

Trying to find the official constellations can be a challenge, but most of us saw shapes in the clouds without even trying as children. In the same way, we can see new shapes in the stars, if we simply slow down and look. In doing so, we can reconnect with all the people who for millennia passed the time after dark by simply looking up at the stars, and coming up with their own constellations. 

The western sky darkens, air temperatures drop, birds and animals become suddenly quiet.  Almost instantly, daylight is transformed into deep twilight, as Venus and the brighter stars appear.  Incredibly, where the Sun stood sits a black disk surrounded by a pearly white halo with delicate, spiky streamers extending outward in all directions.  You’re experiencing a total solar eclipse.

By NASA/JPL

October 15, 1997 – The Cassini Mission to Saturn is launched. After almost seven years en-route to Saturn, the space probe entered orbit on July 1, 2004.

What value can be found in a truly dark, star-speckled sky? Simply put, there is no universal answer.

Many people are familiar with finding Polaris, the North Star, by using the two end stars in the Big Dipper Bowl as ‘pointer stars.’ However, you may not know that if you follow these same two stars in the OPPOSITE direction during spring and summer, you will find the constellation Leo, the Lion. Early in May, Leo is directly south and high in the sky at about 9 pm.

Joyce Tanihara

Have you ever seen a star-like object moving across the night sky over several minutes?  You may have seen an artificial satellite. 

Zach Schierl

Every Boy Scout knows how to find the North Star; just follow the two stars on the end of the Big Dipper’s bowl, and voila… you’re there! The North Star might be the most famous star in the entire sky, yet also the most misunderstood.

Mercury, the innermost and speediest planet, can be hard to see, because it never appears very far from the brilliant Sun in our sky.

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