Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Moon's Deep Interior Still Hot

Hey Space Placers!

Here is a fascinating article on new research done by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NOAJ) that shows the Moon's deepest mantle layer is still hot.

When we look at the Moon we are seeing the outermost layer of the Moon, the crust. Underneath the crust lies the mantle and then at the very center of the Moon the core. This structure, although vastly different in size and scope, is the same for the Earth.

The Moon and Earth are locked in a gravitational sequence that produces tides which affect both the Moon and Earth. The research done by an international team shows that the deepest interior of the mantle is soft due to this tidal heating.

Our view of the Moon has changed from being a dry, dead and geologically dormant world to one where water exists, a tenuous atmosphere and now interior heat.

The Moon beckons us to return to explore and I believe inhabit it.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, August 18, 2014

GREAT Crowd Last Night

Hey Space Placers!

We had a capacity crowd at Big Meadows Lodge at Shenandoah National Park to learn about the James Webb Space Telescope.

Families with kids, couples and attendees from international venues enjoyed learning about the space telescope successor to Hubble.

It was cloudy at the Park last night but what really struck me was how QUIET it was. There were lots of people staying in the campsites and the lodge where we were but the quiet was surreal. It made me realize how precious a commodity silence is in modern times.

We saw license plates from FL, VA, PA, NJ, NY, MN, CA and MD. People were riding bikes - one gent from the Netherlands was taking on the fluctuating terrain of Skyline Drive - to families riding together.

The campgrounds are a mixture of tent and RV separate sites. It was neat to see people and their campsite set ups. Nothing beats the smell of a campfire in the wilderness air.

It was cloudy so we could not have our star party that follows my talk and it was cloudy this morning so Jupiter-Venus were out. But all in all it was another great session in our "Let's Talk About Space at Shenandoah National Park.

If you haven't visited one of the Nation's National Parks in awhile, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Here's one pic I did get of Deer 084:

SKy Guy in VA

Sunday, August 17, 2014

James Webb Space Telescope: Join Me At Shenandoah National Park 8-17-14

Hey Space Placers!

Heading up to the mountains.

Tonight I will be at Shenandoah National Park's Big Meadow's Lodge at 9 p.m. to talk about NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

This is the 3rd in the "Let's Talk About Space at Shenandoah National Park".

Don't forget to look for Jupiter & Venus tomorrow morning - see yesterday's blog for details.

Oh, and here's my first astropic with my new 80mm f/5 short refractor from last night:

Looking forward to getting more pics with this 'scope.

Sky Guy in the Mountains of SNP

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Hey Space Placers!

If you have not seen Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky before dawn yet, you need to set the alarm for about 45 minutes before sunrise, get out and look. See my previous blog for background and a pic.

At their closest on the morning of August 18th the two brightest planets in the solar system will be  close enough to view in a telescope at low magnification - that is close. Depending on your viewing location they will be separated by a 1/2 of a degree or less - the size of your little finger at arms-width.

Sky & Telescope 
The key to seeing the planetary pair is having a clear view of the ENE horizon and hopefully no intervening clouds or haze close to the horizon. If you have binoculars they will enhance the view immensely.

You can read more about this skywatching treat here and here.

I'll be up at Shenandoah National Park on Sunday, August 17th, giving my 3rd
"Let's Talk About Space at Shenandoah National Park" presentation - "The James Webb Space Telescope". The talk starts at 9 pm in the Massanutten Room at Big Meadows Lodge. Afterwards, if it is clear, we will have a skywatching session at Big Meadows.

My hope is to get a pic of the dazzling duo on Monday morning. I will be taking my new wide field 80mm refractor out to view the pair and attempt to get some pics to share.

You can try to get a pic too by mounting your camera on a tripod and using a telephoto lens to capture the pair. Take multiple exposures trying to get a faster shutter speed to cut down on pre-dawn glare.

Let's hope for clear skies and great pics!

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, August 15, 2014

Interstellar Dust Find?

Hey Space Placers!

7 possible specks of Interstellar Dust have been retrieved from NASA's  2006 Stardust Mission.

If confirmed this would be an impressive addition to our knowledge of the environment between the stars. Here is an excellent news release on the potential find and its implications.

Scientists have discovered supernova remnant material in the interior of the Allende Meteorite and others.

Have a good weekend and be sure to look at Jupiter and Venus - see my blog from yesterday.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!! 8/15-18/14 Jupiter & Venus Meet

Hey Space Placers!

Supermoon (one more next month) and the Perseids have come and gone. But there is a real skywatcher's treat in the predawn sky for the next several days.

Bright Jupiter is moving out of the Sun's glare while Venus is sinking lower in the east each day. This will make for a fascinating view in the sky before dawn culminating on the 18th when the two are very close together.

We see this movement as a result of planetary motion. Venus, Earth and Jupiter all orbit the Sun in their  gravity defined paths or orbits. This changes the view of the planets every day. Jupiter will be in our evening sky and Venus will transition from the morning to evening sky in the coming months.

In my picture that I took at Shenandoah National Park yesterday, 8/13/14, you can see Jupiter in the lower left while Venus dominates the sky scene to the upper right.

To see the planetary duo you need to have a clear view of the eastern horizon and need to start looking around 5:30 a.m. FInd Venus first and look diagonally to the lower left of the "Morning Star" to find Jupiter.

If you have binoculars it will make your search easier. If you have a telescope be sure to look at the two  on the 18th as they will easily fit in a low power, wide field eyepiece. You can take a pic by mounting a camera on a tripod and take some exposures using a telephoto lens if you have one and using the delayed shutter function.

I hope to get some more pics too.

Happy skywatching!

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Hey Space Placers!

Tonight is the predicted peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower. It looks like DMV will be clouded out BUT you can LISTEN for them on the Internet via space radar  - a favorite activity of mine - anytime up until the shower ends sometime after August 13. This includes day time hours as well.

NASA will have a live Internet chat at 11 p.m. EDT and streaming (weather permitting) at 9:30 p.m. EDT so you can  VIEW them via NASA.

The almost Full Moon is in the sky all night and will dampen this year’s  Perseid Meteor Shower but the brighter meteors will still be visible. Each year during August the cometary debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle intersects the Earth and produces a wonderful display of falling or shooting stars - meteors. These bits of comet dust, about the size of a grain of sand, hit our atmosphere at 140,000 miles per hour! 

At a dark sky site with no Moon present one can count on seeing up to a 100 meteors an hour. This year the bright and almost Full Moon will reduce the number to a predicted 30-40 per hour. These will be bright meteors and the Perseids produce a lot of fireballs - meteors that are brighter than Venus. NASA’s meteor monitoring stations have reported a number of bright Perseid fireballs in the past few days. 

Start watching the sky at 11 p.m. local time and especially the hours before dawn to look for them. The best place to watch the Perseids is somewhere free of city lights that offers a clear view of the whole sky. Being comfortable is key to watching the shower.

I will be at Big Meadows Lodge, Shenandoah National Park on August 12, 9 p.m. EDT, giving my next “Let’s Talk About Space at Shenandoah National Park” presentation on the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater. Afterwards if it is clear we will meet at Big Meadows to watch the Perseids.

Here’s to clear skies! Hope to see you at Big Meadows!

Sky Guy Back in VA