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.

Friday, February 7, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

A Spotless Sun October 29, 2019
Credit: Greg Redfern
Last year scientists made predictions about the Sun's new solar cycle.      

It appears that the new cycle has begun with the appearance of sunspots on our star.

Here are two separate scenarios about events involving our star, the Sun, that will happen.

The first is about the way the Earth will die when the Sun becomes a Red Giant. This will start to kick in about a billion years from now.

The future of our Sun and solar system as seen in the Dumbbell Nebula
Our dead Sun will spew out all of the elements it made in its life into the Milky Way Galaxy
to help form new stars and planets.
Credit: Greg Redfern
The second could happen today - though not likely - but WILL at some point. And that is the Sun having a BIG solar event that would ruin modern civilization's day and for years there after.

Solar Prominences
Credit: Greg Redfern
The only thing standing between us and the second solar situation is our ability to constantly monitor the Sun and be prepared to take action. 

Joining the solar monitoring spacecraft already operating ESA will launch its Solar Orbiter mission from Cape Canaveral February 10, 2020.

I recently blogged about the world's newest and most powerful ground based solar telescope.

All of this adds up to being a good thing for humanity and our modern day civilization. No matter what events are happening worldwide we need to keep watch on our star. Failure to do so and act when the time comes will have disastrous consequences on a scale never before seen......

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, February 6, 2020


Hey Space Placers!

Sorry for the absence but I had a bug and working on my editor's comments on my upcoming book.

Early this morning spaceflight history was made with the return to Earth of Astronaut Christina Koch as she completed the longest single spaceflight by a woman.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Soyuz capsule after returning from the space station on Feb. 6, 2020.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Her stay in space of 328 days for one mission by a U.S. astronaut is only topped by Scott Kelly who stayed in space for a year

It was vital for NASA to get a woman to complete a long term spaceflight mission to complement what Scott Kelly did. Koch volunteered to stay on orbit so this could be accomplished.

NASA can now learn more about how women are affected by long term spaceflight in preparation for going to the Moon, Mars and solar system.

Sky Guy Greg