Monday, February 24, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

I've been keeping you up to date on Betelgeuse which has undergone a historic dimming - the greatest in recorded history. There was speculation as to the cause and what it could mean for the red supergiant star that is in the constellation of Orion the Hunter.

Astronomers are pretty sure that Betelgeuse's dimming has been the result of some type of dust event and not due to diminished output from the star.

The ESO photograph below shows how the appearance of the star changed in 2019. Most likely that Dec. 2019 photograph is dust dimming the light from the star.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
the highest resolution version available.
The Changing Surface of Fading Betelgeuse 
Image Credit: ESO, M. Montarg├Ęs et al.

Ongoing observations show that the power output of Betelgeuse has remained constant which means that the dimming is being caused by some other mechanism with dust being the number one possible culprit.

Observations by astronomers as of 2/22/20 confirm that Betelgeuse has stopped dimming and is starting to slowly brighten.

Stars make dust, and stars like Betelgeuse make lots to it.

Orion is well up in the sky for the next two months so take a look for yourself - will Betelgeuse get brighter?

Sky Guy in Durban, SA

Sunday, February 23, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

Ahoy from the Indian Ocean. Been at sea and will be for awhile.

There is a new record holder for the oldest impact crater. 

Yarrabubba crater in Western Australia is about 2.23 billion years old passing Vredefort crater  by about 200 million years.

Sky Guy in the IO

Monday, February 17, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

February 18th, 2020 after or before dawn depending on your location, the waning crescent Moon will cover, or occult, the planet Mars. Where you live determines if you can see the event and at what time.

Here are the times for some cities provided by Sky and Telescope:

New York City, NY — 7:36:37 a.m. / 9:05:49 a.m. EST
Atlanta, GA — 7:07:29 a.m. / 8:45:13 a.m. EST
Columbus, OH — 7:14:47 a.m. / 8:45:48 a.m. EST
Nashville, TN — 6:04:12 a.m. / 7:38:49 a.m. CST
Chicago, IL — 6:07:10 a.m. / 7:35:02 a.m. CST
Kansas City, MO — 5:52:48 a.m. / 7:20:43 a.m. CST
Phoenix, AZ — 4:37:27 a.m. / 5:40:07 a.m. MST
Boise, ID — Reappearance only at 5:49:02 a.m. MST
San Francisco, CA — Reappearance only at 4:30:57 a.m. PST
Seattle, WA — Reappearance only at 4:47:41 a.m. PST

For a more comprehensive list see the Sky and Telescope article.

You can watch Mars get close to the Moon and disappear with your own eyes unless you are in daylight. Using binoculars or a telescope is your best bet for viewing the occultation.

Here's to clear skies for everyone.

Saturday, February 15, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

Here's more on dimming mystery star Betelgeuse in Orion.

I photographed the constellation last night and it is still amazing how dim Betelgeuse is now. You can see the reddish glows in the pic which are areas of hydrogen gas being illuminated by energetic stars. The reddish area to the left of center towards the top is the Rosette Nebula and the faint reddish loop immediately to the left of Orion is Barnard's Loop. Also visible are the famous Orion Nebula and some reddish nebulosity above and to the left of it where the Horsehead and Flame Nebulas are.

Betelgeuse is the star in the middle near the top.

You can also see dark nebulae of gas and dust in the winter Milky Way that is near Orion on the left.

Orion and surrounding sky.
Greg Redfern
The European Southern Observatory recently imaged the DISK of Betelgeuse which was quite an amazing feat.

You can see the similarities in my pic and the one in the beginning of this video.

Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have captured the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star in the constellation of Orion. The stunning new images of the star’s surface show not only the fading red supergiant but also how its apparent shape is changing.
Credit: ESO

Astronomers will be watching to see what happens.......

Sky Guy on VA

Friday, February 14, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

Have you ever seen the world famous "Pale Blue Dot" photo that was taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990? It was taken looking back at our planet just before the spacecraft's camera was shut down to conserve power.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has remastered and released a new photograph to commemorate the 30th anniversary.

Updated version of the iconic
That single blue colored pixel is our planet and is where everything and everyone that has ever existed or will ever exist resides.

To help our planet measure the light pollution at your location tonight. You'll be helping in the fight against light pollution which is a serious environmental, energy and health issue.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

BIG NEWS for yesterday:

Space X announced on Twitter that it had shipped its Demo 2 Flight Crew Dragon spacecraft to Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX employees and Crew Dragon for Demo 2 Flight
Credit: SpaceX
It is anticipated that the Demo-2 Crew Dragon could launch next quarter which starts April 1st with two American astronauts on board. This would be a huge step forward in NASA's Commercial Crew Program .

Light the candle.........

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, February 8, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

It's that time again when the Internet blows up about Supermoons.

We have the first in a series of Supermoons coming the night of February 8-9 when the Full Snow Moon will be within a day plus of perigee - the Moon's closest approach to the Earth in a lunar month.

The Moon will be a little larger in the sky BUT this isn't readily apparent to the unaided eye. It will be a bit brighter. This time of year the Moon will also be very high in our sky in the Northern Hemisphere.

Get the low down on the upcoming Supermoons.

Enjoy the view.