Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy

This morning on StarDate, we discovered that, over the years, comets have gotten some seriously bad press.

In fact, in 1910, folks were so concerned about the gases they feared were emitted by the tail of Halley's Comet, they were buying up pills alleged to combat the toxins (Apparently for those too poor to afford the rental of a "submarine boat").

James Peacock/Unsplash

The clouds and rain may make themselves scarce later this week, just in time to give us good looks at two fun events in the sky.

More astro-news, resources for aurora forecasts and more goodies are available here.

©Bob King. Used wth permission.

The moon's going through an awkward phase.

It's gibbous right now, something Italian speakers know means convex on both edges, and fans of Stephen King know means scary and something awful is going to happen.

Bob King. Used with permission.

We hate the way dust makes things look at home, but it turns out dust makes sunsets look spectacular.

Volcanic eruptions in Russia's Kuril Islands are making our sunsets here in the Northland purple.

How does THAT work?  Astro Bob explains.

And in more astro-news, Bob reports there is a decent chance of auroras for the region this Friday and Saturday nights (September 27 and 28) and you can read more about that here.

©Bob King. Used with permission.

Skywatchers all over the northland will be celebrating the night skies beginning Sunday, September 15 ...

It's a week of classes and star parties; you can check out Starry Skies Lake Superior's web site for more details.

©Bob King. Used with permission.

As if having a  lovely long weekend to camp under the stars - and clear skies to enjoy them - wasn't enough,  we have northern lights to look forward to, possibly Saturday night!

Bob King's got the space weather forecast (with links for the three-day and the 27-day version) plus tips on how to photograph the aurora for yourself!

Bob King. Used with permission.

It turns out that the worst enemies of star-gazers may be clouds - and clear skies.  Clouds: well, that's obvious.  But if that big ol' full moon is hanging over your shoulder, messing up your eyes' ability to adjust to the dark, it's not helping, either.

The solution?

Don't stay up late; get out early.

©Jim Schaff. All rights reserved.

Clear skies and cool, mosquito-discouraging temperatures mean it will be a great week to get out into the toolies away from city lights, and bask in the glow of the summertime Milky Way instead.

You can find our more about spirites, about Jim Schaff's photograph above, and how to photograph sprites for yourself here.


Where were you 50 years ago today?

If you're Bob King, you were combining your passions for astronomy and photography by taking pictures of the black-and-white television coverage of the Apollo 11 launch.

Everything you need to know about the 50th anniversary and more  in this conversation from this morning - and the links below!

Related links:

M. Druckmüller / P. Aniol / K. Delcourte / P. Horálek / L. Calçada / ESO

Chances are you'll miss today's total eclipse of the sun unless you're in Argentina, but even if you can't see it in person, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the experience, virtually.

Plus lots of things you can see, 

©Bob King. Used with permission.

Despite what seems like a never-ending stretch of clouds and cool temperatures, Bob King says get outside after 11pm (twilight is extra-long these days) and look up.  You just might be surprised at what you can see.

  You can read more Astro Bob on his blog, including his latest post here.

Marco Langbroek

The moon returns to the western sky, why there's no Ophiucus sign in the zodiac, although there is a constellation, and the rwo of 60 twinkling spaceships in the sky at the end of last month.

You can read more Astro Bob, including this latest post about how to see Mercury, here.

It's a wide-ranging edition of Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy today: from the weather to the conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and the moon to the International Space Station -- with stops along the way at The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and how we know the earth is not flat.

©Bob King. Used with permission.

It's a moon.  It's a shadow. (Yup, now you'll have the Cat Stevens tune stuck in your head all day, too.)

But it's also 365 degrees of sunrises and sunsets, and that, friends, is pure poetry.

And, as promised, here's everything you wanted to know and more about what, where and how to watch the eclipse in our area:

©Bob King. Used with permission.

After a brief hiatus (twenty years or so) to do the newspaper thing, amateur astronomer Bob King returns to KUMD to talk about what we can see in the evening, overnight and morning skies this month - and even offer an astrophotography tip or two!