Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Day of 2012

Hey Space Placers!

Thank you for being with me during 2012 and I look forward to what the Universe has to offer us in 2013.

I will be on top of what happens here on Earth and out there in space for you.

Let me know if you have any special topics or interests that you would like me to cover for you.

For you and yours, have a safe last day in 2012 - the calendar will start anew on1/1/13!

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, December 30, 2012

NASA Year in Review

Hey Space Placers!

It has been a great year for NASA and they have a compilation of 2012 stories here:

And what about NASA in 2013??? Check it out here:

For the $18 billion NASA spent in 2012, the WORLD got a good deal.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Santa Give You A New Telescope?

Hey Space Placers!

Did Santa give you a new telescope for Christmas? Are you wondering what to do with it? Or maybe you are considering buying a telescope in the near future?

Check out this great article from Sky and Telescope on what to see with your new window on the Universe:

Sky Guy in Snowy VA

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 12-28-12 - Last Full Moon of 2012

Hey Space Placers!!!

The last Full Moon of 2012 takes place at 5:21 a.m. on Friday, 12-281-12. The Moon will be very bright Friday night so hey, take a look in the morning and evening!

It is hard to believe that 2013 is right around the corner so be sure to see this last lunar milestone of 2012!

The stars near the Moon are Castor and Pollux with Orion further to the right.

Love the Moon....

Sky Guy in VA

New Horizons Update

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's mission to Pluto, New Horizons, is alive and well. In January 2015 the hardy spacecraft will start encounter operations with a July 14, 2015 flyby of Pluto that will provide a relatively close up look of the distant world and its moons. New Horizons will do a flyby as it cannot slow down and enter orbit since it does not have the fuel to do so and traveling at 30,000 mph would take a lot of fuel and a big engine to accomplish. The spacecraft will take on new targets once its primary mission at Pluto is over.

Image: Image: An artist's concept shows NASA's New Horizons spacecraft during its 2015 encounter with Pluto and its moon, Charon.

There are some possible hazards in the vicinity of Pluto that has mission managers worried - Read More About It and the mission here:

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Hey SPace Placers!

You have to see this magical pic of winter in one of the most beautiful geological formations on Earth:

It features the stars of which I spoke of in my blog on "stars of winter" and captures the essence of winter - less a Moon filled sky-landscape.

I know Wally and he is one of the best in the business as we met on an astronomical cruise in Dec. 2010. His star/landscape pics are without compare.

I hope to do the same someday.

Skyguy in Bad WEAX Today VA

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 12-25-12 Moon and Jupiter

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Space Placers!

Tonight at sunset look at the Moon and Jupiter in the East, they are very close together for a gorgeous sight.

The two will keep each other company but will slowly separate as the night wears on due to the motion of the Moon towards the East.

Enjoy the view and if you have a new telescope from Santa be sure to take a peek at Jupiter to see the Great Red Spot and craters on the Moon

If Santa bought you a new camera, try taking your first sky shot using a tripod and a time exposure.

Read More About It:

On Christmas I always pause and reflect on how the sky was the same for Jesus in His time as it is for us today. It is a connection through the ages that we all can enjoy.

Peace and joy to you and yours.......

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Stars of Winter

Hey Space Placers!

As I am watching "spittin' snow" come down here in Central VA, I extend Christmas and Holiday Season good wishes to you all. My blog has reached many countries and thousands of people worldwide. Let us be united in our connection to the sky and the wonders it contains.

If your skies are clear tonight and/or tomorrow night - enjoy the stars of winter this special time of year. Jupiter is the brightest object in the sky after the glorious Moon. If you have snow on the ground the Moon will provide a special view of the world at night.

Orion the Hunter rises an hour after sunset and the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, joins Orion in the southeast between 7 and 8 p.m. Sirius is a treat to watch as it blazes away in all its glory. When low in the sky Sirius becomes a celestial diamond sparkling with fiery colors and the view in binoculars or a telescope is mesmerizing.

Take time to ponder the sky and its singular beauty this holiday season. The unique quiet and solitude, enjoyed with family and friends is beyond compare.

Christmas Night will have a special treat for all of us to see - more on that tomorrow. Until then, enjoy this spectacular Hubble Space Telescope picture of a dying star that is reseeding the Universe with its created elements that will go on to seed new stars and planets.

Hubble picture of nebula NGC 5189

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Real World Asteroid Worry Eliminated

Hey Space Placers!


With all of the non-sensical hoopla over yesterday's end of the world, our planet has dodged a real space bullet in the form of a 140-meter wide asteroid named 2011 AG5. This asteroid was of significant concern to astronomers as when discovered in 2011 there was a real chance of it impacting our planet in 2040. Such an impact would have released 100 megatons of energy - a large city killer.

Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph image of 2011 AG5. The asteroid is the point at the center of the image (circled) with background stars trailing because the telescope tracked on 2011 AG5. This single 300 second exposure is oriented with north up and east left - each background star streak is about 15 arcseconds in length. 2011 AG5 is highly variable in brightness and other Gemini observations on October 27th required longer exposures than the one shown here.

Follow up observations with the 8-meter Gemini Telescope in Hawaii has allowed astronomers to conclusively state that this space rock has zero chance of impacting our planet. Statistically, our planet suffers such an impact once every 10,000 years, so such an impact, and others like the one that killed the dinosaurs, WILL happen again in Earth's lifetime.

We have to prepare to defend ourselves from such events and the only way to do that is with a space program. We cannot allow our pressing problems here on Earth to cause the withering away of a robust and capable space program. To do so is to seal our REAL doom someday from an inbound space rock or comet.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, December 21, 2012

The World Did Not End - Happy Winter Solstice

Hey Space Placers!

The world did not and will not end today. NASA has a video prepared for tomorrow, Dec. 22 and all of our bills and calories will still be due and count.

I have blooged about this in the past and it is just another instance of people falling prey to hogwash.

The Sun will start to climb higher in the sky as we head towards spring and humanity will continue its path.

I'll have more later.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Hey Space Placers!

Read all about NASA's newest mission to the Moon, LADEE:

The launch will be on 1/15/13 and the mission length is about 160 days.

Why another mission to the Moon? I'll discuss that tomorrow

Sky Guy in VA

Image of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Saturn Pic - WOW

Hey Space Placers!

I'll get to the Moon story tomorrow but I HAD to share this incredible and beautiful pic of Saturn with you:
A Splendor Seldom Seen

Go to these links for more info AND pics:
Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

GRAIL Impact Follow Up

Hey Space Placers!

GRAIL A & B impacted a lunar mountain just around 5:28 p.m. EDT yesterday. I watched the stream from NASA live and the predicted flight path and impact were confirmed by Doppler readings.

The impact site has been given a name and you can read about it here:

Thanks Ebb and Flow for all of the lunar data you returned to us.

NASA's new Moon mission and returning to the Moon tomorrow.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ebb and Flow To Impact the Moon Today

Hey Space Placers!

The twin spacecraft of NASA's GRAIL mission are orbiting lower and lower around the Moon as I write this. Ebb and Flow will impact an unnamed lunar mountain at 2:28p.m. PST today. Read More About It here:

Lunar Impact (grid, 2000px)

You can tune in to NASA for a briefing today starting at 2 p.m. PST to follow events

Apollo 17 left the Moon 40 years ago - it is time to go back to the Moon. More on that tomorrow.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Latest Moon News

Hey Space Placers!

 There have been some new findings about our Moon released recently.

The results have come from NASA's GRAIL mission that flew two identical spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, in perfect tandem for the past year to study the interior composition of the Moon.

GRAIL has gathered data that has been used to make the most detailed gravity maps of the Moon which in turn allow scientists to discern what the interior of the Moon is like. See more at

GRAIL's Ebb and Flow are set to fly into a lunar mountain on December 17. I'll have more on that tomorrow. 

Sky Guy in VA

GRAIL's Gravity Tour of the Moon

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Week From Today......We'll All Be Here

Hey Space Placers!

A week from today is December 22 - the day after what some segments of people say will be the end of the world.

Rest assured, the planet and humanity will be around on the 22nd, and NASA says so in the following video:

So do your shopping and make your plans for 2013 - we'll all be here.

Tomorrow, Moon stuff.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, December 14, 2012

Try The Geminids Friday Night

Hey Space Placers!

It was a COLD and CLEAR night last night and the Geminids were WONDERFUL!!!!

I observed them from a suburban location that has light pollution but still saw dozens per hour including a brilliant meteor that had a luminous train and was almost as bright as Jupiter! It covered about 40-50 degrees of the of the best meteors I have ever seen in my life.

I so enjoy the Geminids as you can feel and see winter due to the cold and the leafless trees. I was on my back deck looking up at the sky through my 100 foot tall oak tree with its branches sprawled across part of the sky. Jupiter, the Seven Sisters and Orion with is hunting dogs were on grand display.

The quiet and cold air calms one's soul and the stars beckon you to think of their realm and all it contains. Nights like this are rare and I cherish them so.

Reports indicate that this was a splendid and active peak for the Geminids.

I am going to go outside again tonight and see if there are a few more that I can see.

I also saw some sporadic (non-Geminid) meteors and I think I saw one that could have been a Piscid from the new possible meteor shower.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 12-13-12 Here Come the Geminids

Hey Space Placers

UPDATE: Tune in live to NASA to watch the shower live

Tonight (12-13-12), starting at 9 pm, from a dark sky site out in the countryside, you should be able to see 100-120 “shooting stars” or meteors, per hour. Even from the ‘burbs, skywatchers should see a few dozen meteors per hour, the key being finding an area free of bright lights to watch this annual sky show.

The Geminid Meteor Shower is a reliable performer that comes along at this time each year and with the Moon out of the night sky tonight, promises to be quite a sight to see from a dark sky location. The peak of the shower is tonight and tomorrow morning with a lesser number of meteors visible over the next few nights.

The Geminids are caused by dust that comes from what astronomers think may be an extinct comet, or maybe even a new category of solar system object - a “rock comet” 09dec_rockcomet/ . All other meteor showers are caused by comets and each year our planet in its orbit around the Sun encounters about a dozen of the these debris streams to create the meteor showers we see.

3200 Phaethon is the actual name of this meteor shower maker and it has perplexed astronomers since it was discovered in 1983. The Geminid Meteor Shower was first observed during the Civil War but it took the space age to solve the mystery of where the shower originated.

You do not need any equipment or training to watch the shower. Just find a good spot free of lights and trees and lie down or sit in a reclining chair so you can look up. The key is to stay warm and comfortable as the night goes on. 182385861.html

The point in the sky where the shower seems to radiate from is the constellation of Gemini the Twins and is visible in the East at 9 pm and will rise higher in the sky and migrate towards the West as the shower progresses. The greatest number of meteors per hour is expected after midnight into Friday morning just before dawn.

An unexpected bonus for this year’s Geminids is the possibility of a totally new meteor shower occurring at the same time. Astronomers think that a new cometary debris stream may have formed from a relatively new comet called Comet Wirtanen. Attempts will be made to confirm if there really is a new meteor shower but it is possible that there will be even more meteors in the sky
during the Geminids.

Enjoy this sky show with friends and family. Just make sure you stay warm and comfortable during the shower.
Geminid Meteor Shower 2012
The Geminids will radiate from the constellation Gemini, shown here at its highest point above the southwestern sky around 2am on December 14th. (The top of the diagram is zenith, the point of the sky directly overhead.) Click the image for a larger version.
Sky & Telescope

Sky Guy in VA

More on Toutatis

Hey Space Placers!

Here is more info on asteroid Toutatis which flies by today.

Toutatis (splash)

Tomorrow: The Geminids and perhaps a new meteor shower.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Asteroids Whizzing By Today

Hey SPace Placers!

"Duck and cover" drills will not be necessary BUT there are two asteroids who are whizzing by the home world today.

One was just discovered this past weekend and highlights how these space rocks can pop up very quickly on our detection methods and pass very close by. Named 2012 XE54 it is 28 meters wide and already passed within 141,000 miles of Earth earlier today - that is well within the orbit of the Moon. There is NO danger of impact but the orbit of this asteroid will be calculated and monitored to make sure it poses no threat.

The other asteroid, Toutatis, is well known and closely monitored as it comes close to Earth about every four years and is about 3 miles across. This space rock will pass 18 lunar distances away. A live view of the close approach will be visible for free to the public starting at 12:00 p.m. PST/3:00 p.m. EST. Details on how to tune in are here:

Astronomers keep watching the skies for these space rocks and comets so we can spot them, track them, and earn about them.

As a reminder the Geminid Meteor Shower is on the night of the 13th-14th. I'll have more into on that later this week.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, December 10, 2012

Light Pollution Info

Hey Space Placers!

As a follow up to yesterday's blog (12/9/12), please read in greater depth about the problem of light pollution -

It may not seem like a big deal but it really is.

Also, don't forget that this week is the Geminid Meteor Shower. I will have lots more on that later this week - the peak is the night of 12 13-14, but they can be seen a day or two before and after the peak date.

Have a good week.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our Planet At Night

Hey Space Placers!

Check out Earth at night as seen from a new NASA-NOAA satellite:

Earth at Night (splash)

The manmade light that we see means that it is wasted energy as light should illuminate the surrounding  area, not be directed into the night sky.

Perhaps there will come a day (or night!!!) when we see far less light directed into the sky as a result of better illuminating technology and design.

We can ill afford wasted energy and light pollution.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Hey Space Placers!

Sorry I missed you the last two days as I was out and about without full 'net access.

NASA has announced that it wants to send another Curiosity class rover/lab to Mars in 2020. This will be a continuation of the Mars exploration missions already in place with a goal of human mission in the 2030's.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Want to Do Astronomical Research?

Hey Space Placers!

Want to do astronomical research that will help astronomers with their study of the Andromeda Galaxy?

No previous experience required, apply herein

This is a wonderful trend in astronomy - combining the 'net and astronomical images available to the public in order to participate in real research and scientific contributions.

I hope you give it a try.

Tomorrow - MSL 2.0

Sky Guy

PS here is the link to the segment on Fox 5

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Links to Today's Stories on Fox 5

Hey Space Placers and Fox 5'ers!

Another GREAT segment with Sarah, Wisdom and Tucker at Fox 5. When the link to the sgement is up I will share it with you.

For those who could not tune in, our live segment today covered NASA's Curiosity News Conference of 12/3/12; The Geminid Meteor Shower on 12/13-14/12 and the Mayan Calendar "End of the World" nonesense that is slated for 12/21/12 - the world is NOT ending that day, so as Curiosity says, "Chill Everyone".

Here are the links:

I'll have more on the Geminids and the Mayan Calendar as the dates get nearer as well as continued updates on Curiosity.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT -- Fox 5 12-4-12 6:30 am

Hey Space Placers!

Tune in tomorrow on WTTG Fox 5 at 6:30 a.m. or thereabouts as I join Tony Perkins and Tucker Barnes live in studio.

We will be talking about Curiosity, the Gemindi Meteor Shower and the Mayan Calendar end of the world nonsense - THE WORLD WILL NOT END ON 12-21-12!!!!!!

For those of you in the Washington D.C. area check your local listings for WTTG - probably channel 5. For those on the 'Net check out

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 12-2-12 Jupiter at Opposition

Hey Space Placers!

Make sure you vote for Curiosity - see my blog

Now that you have voted ;-), check out a live broadcast of Jupiter reaching opposition tonight at 8:15 EST When a planet is at opposition it is directly opposite the Sun and at its closest point to Earth.

Be sure to look for yourself in the east after sunset. But don't worry, Jupiter will be bright and in our night sky for months to come. But it won't be this close to Earth again until summer 2021.

Sky Guy in VA

Vote For Curiosity

Hey Space Placers!

Place a vote for Curiosity to be TIME Magazine's Person of the Year. She is currently 5th (!!!!!) out of 40 nominees.

Place your vote here -,28804,2128881_2128882_2129215,00.html

Curiosity Rover on Mars

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, December 1, 2012

NO Earth Shaking News on 12-3 From Curiosity

Hey Space Placers!

In my blog on 11-23-12 I told you about one of the Curiosity scientists had told NPR that there was some "earth shaking" and "one for the history books" announcement that would be forthcoming from NASA about a find by Curiosity.

Well, the hub-bub has been officially squashed by none other than Curiosity herself in a tweet on Friday:

Everybody, chill. After careful analysis, there are no Martian organics in recent samples. Update Dec 3 

And from JPL, here is part of their news release:

Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect. The news conference will be an update about first use of the rover's full array of analytical instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil. One class of substances Curiosity is checking for is organic compounds -- carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life. At this point in the mission, the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.

The full release is here:

There will still be an update on December 3, but I am sure it will be a "routine" update on Curiosity's ongoing mission of discovery.

We may someday know what REALLY happened in this episode. But it does highlight the perils that face scientists in dealing with the 24/7/365 news cycle - especially with social media outlets like Twitter where the word goes out almost instantaneously to possible the whole connected world.

We may still have an earth shaking, one for the history books announcement from Curiosity someday, but I am quite happy with all of the "routine" (NOT) findings being made by Curiosity, Opportunity and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mercury Water-Ice Detected

Hey SPace Placers!

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft that is in orbit around Mercury has detected the presence of water-ice in the permanently shadowed craters at the North Pole of the planet. Other craters that had part of their interiors permanently shadowed were detected to have water ice as well - the pic below shows where these deposits are located.

Scientists estimate there could be anywhere from 100 billion to 1 trillion tons of water-ice locked in the frozen depths of the craters. That is enough water to cover Washington D.C. to a depth of 2 miles!

This is the same result we found at the South Pole of the Moon - water-ice locked in the frozen depths of craters that have never seen the presence of sunlight.

What's more, the presence of complex organic compounds was found as well at Mercury perhaps covering the water-ice. Sounds a lot like the result of numerous cometary impacts to me - water-ice and organics all mixed in.

Image from Press Conference 11/29/2012

Read More About It:

Tomorrow we'll discuss the Curiosity announcement onDec.3 that is being downplayed byNASA.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stunning Saturn

Hey Space Placers!

What an INCREDIBLE pic from Cassini at Saturn:


Go to the mission web site to learn more about the pic and the ringed planet Saturn:


Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT Dawn 11/28 Venus and Saturn

Hey Space Placers!

Tomorrow before dawn check out the eastern sky to see brilliant Venus and Saturn very close to one another - about a degree will separate the two:

Dawn view

Then notice as the days go by how quickly the two separate in dsitance.

Sky Guy in VA

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 11-27 and 28 Full Moon and Jupiter

Hey Space Placers!

Tonight's Full Moon will be high in the sky in the later hours of the evening and will light up the darkness.

Ever notice how things look in moonlight, especially in the winter if there is snow on the ground?

It is one of my favorite things to see - a bright Moon high in a clear sky with winter being seen in the moonlight.

If you look to the left of the Moon tonight, and especially tomorrow night, brilliant Jupiter keeps our orb very close company.

Enjoy the view, in the sky as well as on the moon lit ground.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Total Solar Eclipse with a Cloudy View

Hey Space Placers!

Take a look at the recent Australian total solar eclipse with a cloudy accent:

Pretty cool. We will have a total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 2017 - hopefully with clear skies!

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, November 23, 2012

Curiosity Earth Shaking News Set

Hey Space Placers!

Word is that NASA will have a news conference on December 3, 2012, to announce the Curiosity results that has the community buzzing about.

See my blog for 11/21/12 for the background about this developing story.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Milky Way's Black Hole Is Feasting

Hey Space Placers!

NASA has put together an excellent story on our Milky Way Galaxy's black hole that resides at the center. Astronomers have been able to capture the beast feasting on matter composed of possibly gas, planets, comets, asteroids, etc.

So while we in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving, take a moment to learn how our Galaxy's black hole beast feasts

Happy Thanksgiving America.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Curiosity Hub Bub

Hey SPace Placers!

I do not know if you have heard, but there is news going around that NASA will be announcing "an earthshaking" announcement soon regarding Curiosity data.

Several news outlets have picked up on this and there was an NPR interview of one of the main scientists who stated that the discovery is coming from soil analysis, but would say nothing more -

Mars has burned NASA before as to announcements that had to be essentially retracted - the most famous being the Mars meteorite that NASA claimed had what they described as  organic compounds in it.

Well, NASA is biding its time with this announcement as it is probably checking and rechecking the data and results.

What could it be?

The most "earthshaking news" possible would be that Curiosity had found actual active life forms in the soil; next would be that fossils had been found and thisrd, may be that the necessary precursors for life - chemicals, amino acids, water, etc, etc are common in the Martian soil. Methane in the soil might be another possibility as life forms on Earth produce Methane.

Whatever it is, it will probably be weeks before we hear as the holidays are upon us and even NASA takes time off.

So we will just have to wait to see what is in store for the history books......

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, November 19, 2012

Curiosity Update

Hey Space Placers!

Check out the link to get the latest on weather and radiation on Mars as determined by NASA's Curiosity rover

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Farthest Galaxy to Date Found

Hey Space Placers!

The newest "farthest galaxy" has been found by NASA space telescopes. The red blob on the graphic is 13.3 BILLION light years away and is a very young galaxy much smaller than our own Milky Way Galaxy. The Universe was only 420 million years old when this galaxy formed.

The large galaxy cluster allows astronomers to see this distant island of stars due to the magnifying effect caused by the cluster's gravity. If it weren't for this effect of Einstein's relativity we probably wouldn't be able to see the baby galaxy.

The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647 JD, is very young and only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, November 16, 2012

Viewing ALERT Leonid Meteor Shower Dawn 11-17-12

Hey Space Placers!

Tomorrow morning before dawn is the predicted peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower. Viewers in a dark sy sit could see 15-20 per hour.

Bundle up, get comfortable and face the east a couple of hours before dawn focusing in on the constellation of Leo the Lion as shown in the graphic. Keeping WARM will be crucial to enjoying the experience.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tour The Milky Way Galaxy With a New Google App

Hey Space Placers!

Google has come out with a new application that needs to run on Google Chrome which allows you to tour the Milky Way Galaxy in splendid detail.

The app, called 100,000 Stars, is beautiful to see and fun to explore. It is a combination of imagery and excellent art work but has solid science at the foundation.

Touring with it gives you a real sense of the size of our stellar neighborhood.

Check it out here:

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Sci-fi Flick - Europa Report

Hey Space Placers!

Looks like we will be getting a new sci-fi space flick sometime in the near future called "Europa Report".

Check out the trailer :

Been a long time since we had a space flick - Apollo 18 and Prometheus were the last ones by my recollection.

The trailer looks cool and there are some interesting PR sites for the movie too - and

No release date yet, but looking forward to it.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NASA "Mascot"????

Hey Space Placers!

Read the great story about a rubber chicken that may be the unofficial mascot for NASA -

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sign Up for Free ISS Sighting Alerts From NASA

Hey Space Placers!

NASA is offering a free service that allows you to get email-tetxt alerts on when the International Space Station (ISS) will be visible from your specified location.

It is SO COOL to see the ISS glide silently by, especially when it is a high overhead and therefore bright, flyby.

Sign up today:

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Asteroid Belts and Life

Hey Space Placers!

Here is an interesting story on how asteroid belts make a definite contribution to the conditions necessary for life as we know to exist and evolve.

This illustration shows three possible scenarios for the evolution of asteroid belts.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Everything You Wanted to Know About Infra Red Light

Hey SPace Placers!

Want to learn all about infra red light - the heat of the Universe????

Check out this fantastic learning video from NASA Goddard

This will be very imporant in the James Webb Space Telescope - Hubble's follow on in space.


Sky Guy in VA

Monday, November 5, 2012

In America, Please VOTE Tuesday 11-6-12

Hey Space Placers!

Sorry for the political bent on this blog entry but I wanted to make sure that everyone in the USA that sees this gets a nice reminder to vote tomorrow.

This is a very, very important election for the U.S. and every single vote matters.

So please, make sure you vote tomorrow, Tuesday, 11-6-12.

I will be doing so the very first thing in the morning so I know my vote is in and counted.

Sky Guy in Crucial State VA

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Read the Latest on Vesta

Hey Space Placers!

DAWN is on her way to Ceres but the research and findings about the time spent at Vesta are still to come.

One of the results is that Vesta has a "young" surface - one that is constantly being churned by countless impacts.

Read more about it:

Canuleia, Up Close

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 11-1-12 Moon & Jupiter

Hey SPace Placers!

A real viewing treat is in store for you tonight as the waning gibbous Moon joins Jupiter and reddish Aldebaran in the East well after it gets dark.

Use binoculars to view each of them and get an appreciation of the scale of our solar system and Galaxy - Jupiter is 1,500 times farther away than the Moon. Aldebaran, to their right, is 930,000 times more distant than Jupiter!

Your binoculars will show the main moons of Jupiter as well.

Enjoy the cool crisp air of fall.

The scene around 9 p.m.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Curiosity's 1st Scoop Sample Results

Hey Space Placers!

The first results are in from Mars regarding the scoop sample taken by Curiosity. The mineralogy of the sample is similar to the weathered basalt of volcanic origin in Hawaii!

The results show that all is working in the instruments of Curiosity and this first sample result will be useful for comparison purposes as Curiosity continues her drive across Gal.e Crater

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dragon Splashdown

Hey Space Placers!

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft successfully undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday and splashed down in the Pacific safely.

For news and pictures see

Be careful with Sandy if you are in the path.....

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Getting Ready for Sandy.....

Hey Space Placers!

Been spending time getting ready for Sandy yesterday and today.

If you are in the vicinity of this storm, get ready NOW as this is a NO-Joke storm..

Have your car topped off, have plenty of water and food and be prepared for no power for a few days.

Check FEMA and your local authorities for updates.

See Sandy from space:

See Sandy in whole Earth image

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, October 26, 2012

9 GB of the Milky Way For Your Viewing Pleasure

Hey Space Placers!  If You Are in the Path of FRANKENSTORM PLEASE PREPARE TODAY!!!!!

You have to check out the 84,000,000 stars visible in the 9 GB views of our very own Milky Way Galaxy that were taken using a new camera on a large telescope located in the Southern Hemipshere. The views concentrate on the Galaxy's center and bulge and are zoomable.

You will enjoy the views and the accompanying video:

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, October 25, 2012

See Saturn's Big Storm

Hey SPace Placers!

Check out the really cool video about Saturn's huge storm

Tommorw the Milky Way as you have never seen it!

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our Black Hole Gets Fed

Hey SPace Placers!

Our Milky Way Galaxy has a supermassive black hole just as many other galaxies do, residing at its center.

A new NASA satellite has been able to actually capture our black hole in the processing of feeding on some type of matter which caused it to flare up

Pointing X-ray Eyes at our Resident Supermassive Black Hole

NuSTAR picked up the 180 million degree flare up from Sagittarius A-Star, or Sgr A* for short, during a several day observing run.

Read More ABout It:

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, October 22, 2012

Latest Research on Formation of the Moon

Hey Space Placers!

Check out these links on the latest research on hom our Moon was formed:

Make sure you go out and marvel at our Moon tonight once you have read the incredible story on how it was created and how the Earth and Moon are related

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Surprise Finding in Galaxy Evolution

Hey Space Placers!

Our very own NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center has produced a cool video about galaxy evolution that details some surprising results from research done with the Keck telescopes in Hawaii and Hubble SPace Telescope.

Tune in to the 3-minute video and see some great computer simulations and hear the latest on galaxy evolution:

Tomorrow some interesting research on our own Moon.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, October 20, 2012

See Inside a Dragon

Hey Space Placers!

The Orionid Meteor Shower continues so take a peek after midnight tonight.

Take a look inside of a Dragon (capsule) here:

Someday SpaceX will have a similar view inside of their MANNED Dragon capsule.

But until then enjoy the view!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT Orionid Meteor Shower 10-20 to 24

Hey Space Placers!

Check out the Orionid Meteor Shower tonight and the next several days. The best view will be after midnight -the 20th, until it starts to get light at dawn. The meteors will appear to come from the southeast - see the graphic below from Sky and Telescope.

Find an area free of lights, make yourself comfortable and warm and enjoy the show. You should see about 25 an hour

How to see Orionid meteors

Enjoy the show.....

Sky Guy in VA

Watch Endeavour on the Streets of LA

Hey Space Placers!

Here is a GREAT 2 minute video of Endeavour making her way through the streets of Los Angeles.


Sky Guy in VA

P.S. Tomorrow we will give tips on seeing the Orionide Meteor Shower.....

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Closest Star Has Earth-like Planet

Hey Space Placers!

The closest star to Earth (besides the Sun) is Proxima Centauri, with 3 other Sun like stars as part of the star system.

Alpha Centauri, at 4.3 light years away, has been found to have an Earth-like (in terms of mass) planet.

Once again we are finding that planets abound and this find so close to Earth is further proof that where there are stars, even multiple ones, there are planets.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Moon's Water Likely Comes From the Sun

Hey Space Placers!

A recently published study says the likely source of the water found on the Moon is from the deposit of Hydrogen protons from the solar wind that chemically reacts with oxygen that is in the lunar soil.

The results also indicate that it is possible that water exists in similar fashion on Mercury and the asteroid Vesta.

Read More About  It: 

Sky Guy  in VA

Monday, October 15, 2012

Endeavour Made It To New home

Hey Space Placers!

After the millions of miles flown in space at 17,000+ mph, Space Shuttle Endeavour's last journey to her new home took two days traveling at less than 2 mph!

Endeavour was quite a sight for the crowds in Los Angeles to see as she crept down roadways and made a tough turn at a donut shop enroute to he new howm at the California Science Center.

Photo credit: Washington Post

See also

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Studying A Piece of Mars - On Earth

Hey Space Placers!

My last blog was about Curiosity reaching out to touch her first rock on Mars.

DId you know there are rocks from Mars that we can touch here on Earth????

Meteorites - rocks from space - have been found that come from the asteroid belt, including recently visited Vesta by the DAWN spacecraft. Space rocks from the Moon and Mars have been found which compliment our knowledge of those bodies that we gained from previous missions.

Here is the link to a story about the newest (I believe) known Mars meteorite - one that was actually witnessed as it fell -

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, October 12, 2012

1st Mars Rock Touched by Curiosity

Hey Space Placers!

Read all about the first rock on Mars to be touched by Curiosity. There were some surprises for the scientists!

Target: Jake Matijevic Rock (Annotated)

Sky Guy in VA


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 10-12-12 Moon and Venus

Hey Space Placers!

If you are a before dawn riser, or even if you are not, be sure t get up on 10-12-12 to view the waning crescent Moon and Venus in the east. The celestial pair will be a gorgeous sight. The Moon may exhibit the pale color of Earthshine on the unlit portion of the Moon which is caused by the reflection of sunlight off of Earth's clouds and oceans.

It will be well worth your while to try and get a picture of the two using a tripod and a 5 second or so exposure at ISO 200. If you zoom in you will get more detail on the Moon. I may try and get some pics myself.

Dawn view

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mars Mystery Partially Solved

Hey Space Placers!

It appears that the mysterious object on Mars photographed by Curiosity is a piece of "benign plastic" from the rover herself:


NASA is still not sure of the material's exact origin from Curiosity but more details may come out from today's teleconference.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mystery on Mars

Hey Space Placers!

Curiosity picked up more than her 1st scoop of soil on October 7 - she spotted something small and shiny in the martian soil.

The scoop sample testing will have to wait while this mystery is solved. The object is too small to see here on my blog so go these sites to see it:

I am sure the mystery will be solved with more pictures and perhaps even smapling with Curiosity's instruments. I do not see any evidence of an impact, or even dropping off of Curiosity - the fine grained and very smooth soil seems undisturbed.

My oh my.....this is why we go to Mars and explore - we NEVER know what we will find!

More on this as it comes in.....

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, October 8, 2012

SpaceX Puts America Back in the Space Business

Hey Space Placers!

Last night at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:35 p.m. EDT, SpaceX launched their first official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This is a huge accomplishment as it marks the return of American built and American launched space access for ISS.

Falcon 9 lifts off

When the last space shuttle mission flew America had no longer had capability to resupply ISS so it fell upon Europe and Russia to do so. With the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon capsule carrying over 1,000 pounds of supplies safely in orbit it will be Wednesday until they dock with ISS.

The 6 astronauts on board ISS will unload the supplies and put 2,000 pounds of used equipment and experiments in the Dragon capsule for return to Earth in about three weeks.

I can't emphasize how critical this return to capability is for NASA and America's space program. We now can commercially access space with our own resources. We still have to rely on Russia to ferry astronauts to and from ISS but that will change in the near future. The Falcon 9-Dragon system can be modified to carry astronauts instead of cargo. That step will come in the not so distant future.

NASA is already building the first space rated Orion crew capsule for launch on an unmanned mission in 2014. SpaceX will not be far behind with their man-rated Dragon capsule.

See the launch:

Read More About SpaceX:

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Black Holes Discovered in Globular Cluster

Hey Space Placers!

Not one, but two black holes have been discovered in a globular cluster 10,000 light years from Earth. This is the first time that black holes have been found inside the relatively compact spherical cluster of stars that can contain hundreds of thousands of stars. Globular clusters orbit our galaxy and they are found to be part of other galaxies as well.

The astronomers were expecting to find perhaps one black hole according to their understanding of how these ancient star clusters evolve - they are billions of years old. But finding two was a surprise and will occupy them as they try to model how and why this occurs.

Read More About It:

Black-Hole Graphic

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New Black Hole in Milky Way Galaxy

Hey Space Placers!

A new black hole discovery in our own Milky Way Galaxy has just been announced.

See the neat video and read more about it

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 10-4 and 5 -12 Moon and Jupiter

Hey SPace Placers!

Tonight at abput 11 p.m. be sure to check out the waning gibbous Moon in the east-north east as it will have a bright companion in the sky - Jupiter.

Late evening scenes

If you have binoculars be sure to look at Jupiter - you can see the four main moons or fewer.

Also check out the east before dawn and see the waltz going on between Venus and the bright star Regulus.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Oct 4 Curiosity Teleconference

Hey Space Placers!

Tune in Oct 4, 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) for the latest on Curiosity at Gale Crater.

Audio and visuals of the event will be streamed live online:

Visuals will be available at the start of the event:

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Is This a Pic of

Hey Space Placers!

You are looking at the clearest picture ever taken from the ground of distant Pluto and its main moon Charon.

This remarkable image was taken using special techniques and the Gemini Telescope. Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, October 1, 2012

Listen In on Earth

Hey SPace Placers!

Listen in on some eerie sounds that come from our own planet.

This would be a great soundtrack for Halloween!

There's a very interesting and deadly scientific side to the sound as well.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Black Hole Event Horizon Measured For 1st Time

Hey Space Placers!

For the first time ever scientists have been able to measure the the edge of a black hole - an object that allows nothing, not even light to escape, once past a certain boundary called the vent horizon.

Using the Event Horizon Telescope - a continent wide network of combined telescopes - astronomers were able to


They accomplished this feat by observing the six billion solar mass black hole that resides in M-87, a galaxy that is 50 million light years away.

They hope to make the Event Horizon Telescope even larger by adding more telescopes to the network and getting even more refined observations.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Curiosity Video Update and Harvest Moon Tonight

Hey Space Placers!

Check out the latest news on Curiosity's findings on the stream bed by watching this video:

Also be sure to watch the Harvest Full Moon tonight at sunset. You can tune in for a free live broadcast  of the Full Moon and Uranus tonight - check for the details here

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, September 28, 2012

Curiosity Finds Martian Streambed

Hey Space Placers!

Curiosity has found an ancient Martian streambed that indicates a high volume of liquid water once flowed through the now dry channel.

Remnants of Ancient Streambed on Mars

Preliminary findings are that the stream of water would have been ankle to hip deep and flowed at about three feet per second. Study of the gravel bed and the rocks will provide further information.

The biggest point is that this would have been a habitable environment for life as we know it although long ago.

Read More ABout It: and

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Sungrazer Comet

Hey Space Placers!

A new comet has been discovered way out in the solar system that is due to pass 800,000 miles from the surface of the Sun on or about November 28, 2013.

You may remember the last sungrazer last year that swung around the Sun and survived to the amazement of the whole world.

Comet ISON is already causing a buzz in the astronomical community due to speculation over how bright it will become getting that close to the Sun. It is POSSIBLE that the comet could get as bright or brighter than the Full Moon which menas it would be visible in the daytime.

Comest are notorious for their behavior - they can fizzle as a dud disappointing the world or flare into aw-inspiring brightness with as tail that sweeps across the sky.

Only time will tell but I guarantee you I will be following Comet ISON closely!

You can see a sample of the media hype already starting over Comet ISON here:

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hubble's DEEPEST EVER View of the Universe

Hey SPace Placers!

Hubble SPace Telescope (HST) has just released a new deepest ever view of the Universe - a non-descript patch of sky that HST has monitored for over a decade. With an exposure time of over two million seconds (!) the combined 2,000+ images reveal a tapestry unlike anything we have ever seen.....everywhere you look there are galaxies - and all kinds of them.

The link allows you to zoom in on the frame and see in detail the incedible sights:

Make sure to turn down the lights and use the best won't be sorry!

Sky Guy in VA

PS Tomorrow the scoop on Comet ISON!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Dark Energy Camera

Hey Space Placers!

Read all about the world's most powerful camera dedicated to the hunt for dark energy:

Dark energy is the force believed to be accelerating the expansion of the Universe, causing galaxy clsuters and the very galaxies themselves to move ever faster apart.

We do not know what dark energy is but we DO know that it exists due to the gravitational influence it has on matter.

The Dark Energy Camera will operate in the southern hemisphere on a 13 foot diameter telescope and take sky surveys to map the sky and study it. The 570 megapixel camera will cover a wide area of sky and allow astronomers to do unprecedented analysis due to the wide area covered - to include whole galaxy clusters.

I look forward to reporting the results in the years to come.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT - Spot Uranus

Hey SPace Placers!

Got a pair of binoculars or a small telescope? Or maybe a pair of good eyes? I have a fairly easy way for you to spot the planet Uranus tonight - 9/23/12 - and a few days after.

Find a viewing area that is free of street lights or other glaring lights. Reading the article and use the accompanying chart at this link to spot Uranus:


This is a GREAT opportunity to see Uranus with your own eyes.

If you have a camera that can take time exposures and be mounted on a tripod, try taking a couple of pics. You can use the chart to identify Uranus in your pic. I would try ISO 400 and about 5-10 seconds with at least a 55mm lens.

Good hunting and let me know if you are successful!

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, September 21, 2012

DAWN Finds on Vesta

Hey Space Placers!

Check out the latest findings on Vesta as determined by NASA's DAWN spacecraft:

Pretty amazing pics and discoveries.

It's on to Ceres and I can hardly wait to see the largest asteroid in the solar system up close and personal.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Most Distant Galaxy Yet

Hey Space Placers!

The most distant galaxy yet observed has been found to be 13.7 BILLION light years away - or when the universe was 500 million years old.

A Glimmer From a Dark Cosmic Era

The faint red blob is not much to look at but when you consider how far away it is, it is truly impressive  that we can see it at all.

The small and compact galaxy, only about 1% of the size of our Milky Way Galaxy, is estimated to have been 200 million years old, very young and probably one of the first galaxies to form after the Bg Bang.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Telescope found the galaxy and will be studying it further as it is visible in 5 visible wavelength bands.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moon and Mars Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 9-19-12

Hey Space Placers!

Use the crescent Moon in the west tonight after sunset to find Mars. While looking at the Red Planet say hello to Curiosity and Opportunity.

Wink at the Moon and remember Neil, too.

Scene in bright twilight

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Curiosity Photographs Partial Solar Eclipse

Hey Space Placers!

Last Thursday Curiosity took photographs of one of its two moons, Phobos  partially eclipsing the Sun. The photos have not been completely sent back or processed yet but the ones that have been released are pretty cool.

The mast camera had to take precautions to make sure that a neutral density filter cut down the glare from the Sun.

Thsi was a planned event by mission controllers and better photos will be forthcoming......but still an amazing feat.

Sky Guy in VA