Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy

Stellarium

No problem seeing June's Strawberry Moon this week, and the twins Castor and Pollux are hanging out with Mercury in the eastern sky.

But  Venus has temporarily disappeared in the sun's glare. (Folks of a certain age may want to enjoy this flashback to John Stewart's album Bombs Away Dream Babies and one of the singles from that album,"Lost Her In The Sun")

Bob King. Used with permission.

Venus's upcoming conjunction with the sun means it will be backlit to a fare-thee-well in the next few weeks, but after that, it changes things up and decides to try out life as a morning star for a while.

Damian Peach. Used with permission.

Yes, it's the Full Flower Moon Wednesday (and Thursday).

Yes, comet SWAN is moving northward and we should be able to see it toward the end of next week.

But the best use of your time between now and next Tuesday, when you can see the constellation Libra and it's three "coolest-ever named stars," is composing a poem rhyming Zubenelgenubi, Zubeneschmali, and Zubenelhakrabi.*

Jeremy Gillard/Flickr

  You say it "Lye-ra" and I say it "Lee-ra"*

  You say it "Vay-ga" and I say it "Vee-ga"

  "Lye-ra"

  "Lee-ra"

   "Vey-ga"

   "Vee-ra"

   Let's go outside and see!

*with apologies to George Gershwin

The best time to see Starlink satellites, the Lyrid meteor shower, how to use YouTube to learn how to pronounce unfamiliar words, and why you need to put next Tuesday on your calendar.

Helpful links:

The biggest moon of the year takes over the night sky tonight, plus a citizen-science photography experiment, and Mars, Saturn and Jupiter line up with the moon next week like "a popcorn string of planets."

And Comet ATLAS, (like a lot of things these days) seems to be falling apart.

©Bob King. Used with permission.

Some skywatchers were disappointed this week to discover that the moving, blinking lights in the sky were not, in fact, a spaceship from another planet.  Some were crestfallen to learn it was just the International Space Station. Astro Bob has more information and good viewing times here in this blog post.

©Bob King. Used with permission.

March 18: the crescent moon will be clustered with Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn

March 19: Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn will still be clustered together

Also March 19: it's the first day of spring and the sun will rise due east and set due west

March 20: Mars slides below Jupiter

And when all of these things happen in just a couple of days ... it's a conjunction conjunction.

ESO/Luis Calcada

The moon is coming back, Betelgeuse is feeling a little brighter, and Bob King has a workaround for the reflecting teloscopes that will not allow us to see space vampires.

https://stardate.org/radio/program/2020-02-25

Full Moon over Lake Superior
Bob King

The only good thing about nights where the air temperature is -20 and the wind chill is worse is that you can be pretty sure the skies will be clear for star-gazing.

Venus, Mars and the "precious" nature of night vision this week on Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy.

Smiling man next to a large home telescope
Courtesy of Bob King

It's Beargrease week, so of couse we asked Bob to talk about Sirius, the dog star on this week's show.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

You can worry about the planet Jupiter throwing "comets and asteroids toward Earth like a sniper," or you can worry about comets ("essentially asteroids that are heavy on the ice").

Or you can just kick back, appreciate the additional 27 minutes of daylight we've picked up since the solstice, and contemplate the "molecular and atomic filters that each block a certain range of wavelengths of light" and help us create such beautiful sunrise and sunset photographs.

J. Skowron / OGLE / Astronomical Observatory, University of Warsaw

Betelgeuse will show up tonight, and unlike the similarly-named poltergeist, you don't even have to say its name three times.

AstroBob will have some helpful tips for red-giant-spotting on his blog, and you can read about scientists' concerns that "Betelgeuse is acting strange" here.

©Bob King. Used with permission.

The sun is pretty low in the skies these days, the first day of winter will be here before you know it, Venus is easy to see with Saturn alongside it (inspiring Astro Bob to write this love note to the planet!), and even though Bob says it's "no big deal," the Ursid meteor shower will peak over the weekend.

Robson Hatsukami Morgan/Unsplash

Next week, a conjunction* of Venus and Saturn ... and on Friday the 13th, consider a moonlight ski and a peek at the Geminid meteor shower!

You can read about more unearthly goings-on at Bob King's blog here.

 

Bob King/Stellarium

We've got the chance of northern lights tomorrow (Wednesday, November 20) but that will pale in comparison to Thursday night's meteor outburst!

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