Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Asteroid Day 2015

Hey Space Placers!

Read the story and hear my interview by clicking on the links below to learn about Asteroid Day.

It's talks about the threat from above on LISTEN: READ:

I hope you will tune in on the Internet or attend one of the world-wide events that are taking place. I will be at George Mason University Observatory giving a talk.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 6/29 & 6/30 Venus & Jupiter

Hey Space Placers!

After weeks of closing in Jupiter and Venus waltz together very closely in the West after sunset. This is one sight you want to see as it will definitely catch your eye and camera lens like it did for me last night (6/28/15):

Venus is the brighter of the two and is setting in a cloud. The stars of the constellation Leo are to the left. The sky is lit up by the light of an almost Full Moon. The city lights are from the Shenandoah Valley in VA as seen from Skyland Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.

Here is a sky map for you to align yourself:

Try taking pics with your cell cameras and digital cameras. Binoculars AND a telescope will enhance the view. In a 'scope you will see probably see both planets in the same field of view at your lowest magnification.

Here's to clear skies for us all.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

SpaceX Mishap

Hey Space Placers!

Today's launch of the SpaceX resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) resulted in a mishap about two minutes into the flight resulting in catastrophic loss of the mission.

                                                                          NASA TV

You can get the latest from NASA here.

This was an UNMANNED flight and the 6 astronauts aboard ISS are safe and in no danger. They have supplies of food and water to last until at least October.

This is the third failure of an ISS resupply mission since Orbital ATK last October and the Russian Progress mission in April. There are additional resupply missions in the coming months with the next being a Russian Progress mission slated for July 3.

Stay tuned for the latest as the investigations into these mission failures continue.

Sky Guy in VA.

Friday, June 26, 2015

NASA Plans For Europa Mission

Hey Space Placers!

NASA wants to go to Europa, one of Jupiter's four main moons.

Europa is known to have a liquid ocean that contains twice as much water as found on Earth. Scientists think the ocean of Europa would be a perfect place to look for life as it has all of the ingredients necessary - for life as we know it that is.

Let's hope NASA gets the funding approved to go to this intriguing world.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pluto Is Mesmerizing

Hey Space Placers!

Look at this latest video and tell me you are not mesmerized by the features and dark hole at the pole we are seeing.....

The view is only going to get better and more enticing with each day - 7/14/15 for closest contact.

Sky Guy in VA


Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Hey Space Placers!

We had Auroras as low as Virginia last night and here are two pics I took - I could not see them with my unaided eye.

These same Auroras were seen by the crew of the International Space Station ISS and they made a neat video about it you should watch.

Get all the info on this event and the next few days here.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ceres Update

Hey Space Placers!

Here are the latest pics and info from NASA's Dawn spacecraft that discontinuing to lower its orbit around Ceres.

The bright and mysterious spots above continue to capture the most attention on Twitter but a "pyramid shaped peak" has REALLY got the 'net fired up as you can see.

Our views will only get better as Dawn gets closer.

Be sure to check on Jupiter and Venus in the west as they get closer each night.

Sky Guy in VA.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pluto in Color, Happy Summer AND Father's Day

Hey Space Placers!

Check out this super-cool color gif of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon taken by New Horizons:

What is most striking is the color difference between the two in this double planet (like our Moon and Earth) system.

You also have to read the great article on New Horizons done by Joel Achenbach today in the Washington Post.

Happy Father's Day to the DADS on this planet on this 1st day of summer. May you enjoy your family this summer by looking at the sky together and marveling at the Universe.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT 6-19 and 20-15 - Moon, Venus and Jupiter in the West

Hey Space Placers!

Go outside tonight and see the beautiful sight of the slim crescent Moon, Jupiter and Venus in the western sky as it gets dark.

If you miss the sky view tonight the three will still be in the same section of the western sky on the 20th.

Be sure to look for Earthshine on the Moon - that ghostly light on the dark part of the Moon caused by the reflection of sunlight off of our planet's clouds and oceans.

Hope you have clear skies - we won't here in VA :-(

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Hey Space Placers!

Lunar researchers using data from NASA's LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere & Dust Environment Explorer) mission have discovered a permanent lopsided dust cloud around the Moon.


I found it intriguing that the annual Geminid meteor shower, the only meteor shower caused by an asteroid (instead of a comet) was singled out in the press release.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

See Inspiring Pluto New Horizons Video

Hey Space Placers!

Time and New Horizons are moving quickly to the Plutonian System encounter next month.

Watch this inspiring video to remember past planetary missions and contemplate the next.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 14, 2015

UPDATED Philae Wakes Up!!!!

Hey Space Placers!

UPDATE: The European Space Agency (ESA) initiates intense operational planning for the Rosetta mission as a result of Philae awakening.

Latest pic (6/13/15) of Comet 67P by Rosetta


The little lander that could, Philae, has woke up after seven-months in hibernation on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko!! The mothership to Philae, Rosetta, has been listening for the lander since March 12th.

  1. Hello Earth! Can you hear me?

The Twitterverse came alive with Tweets from Philae with thousands of replies and retweets.

On June 13th the dishwasher sized 1st-ever cometary lander sent data to the European Space Agency's space operations center  at 4:28 PM EST. This meant that the the plucky lander was getting enough sunlight on its solar cells to charge its batteries and phone home.

The ESA team also discovered that there was data in Philae's memory from the past few days that will provide valuable information about recent conditions on the comet.

Over the next few days the ESA Rosetta-Philae team will be checking out the lander and preparing it for data collection operations.

Stay tuned for more Tweets and surprises from the surface of Comet 67P courtesy of Philae.

Welcome back!

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, June 13, 2015

UPDATED T-30 Pluto Beckons

Hey Space Placers!

UPDATE: See my column from 6-14-15.

Look at this latest set of Pluto images from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft:

It is simply amazing to see SURFACE detail on this solar system body that has eluded us for so many decades. The light and dark features are telling us that Pluto has a very complex surface that will reveal many secrets as we get closer each and every day.

NASA has also released a one-hour video "The Year of Pluto" that I highly recommend watching.

Here is the New Horizons team that is bringing us this historic flyby in just over 30 days from now - July 14th:

Principal Investigator Alan Stern leads a mission team that includes the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute, Ball Aerospace Corporation, the Boeing Company, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Stanford University, KinetX, Inc., Lockheed Martin Corporation, University of Colorado, the U.S. Department of Energy, and a number of other firms, NASA centers and university partners. 

Pluto - here we come!

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 12, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sky Guy INTERNET ALERT 6/11/15 3 PM EDT - Moon Occults Uranus

Hey Space Placers!

Tune in to Slooh at 3 PM today, 6/11/15, to watch live as the Moon occults (passes in front of) Uranus.

A Crescent Uranus
NASA via Slooh
Should be quite the show for armchair astronomers around the world.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pluto Info For EVERYONE

Hey Space Placers!


If you are involved with parks, summer camps, or are a teacher, librarian or parent, here it is, a "1 stop website" for all things Pluto-New Horizons flyby related.

Easy to follow guides containing information and activities custom designed for your particular needs according to your audience have been posted.

These will become very handy in the 5 weeks to come as we get closer and closer to PLUTO!

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ceres Fly Over Video

Hey Space Placers!

You have to see this STUNNING video made up of Dawn spacecraft pics.


The view is only going to get better as Dawn gets closer and closer to Ceres over the next few months.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT- Venus & Jupiter

Hey Space Placers!

On your next clear night go outside after sunset and look in the west to find the two brightest planets in the sky - Venus and Jupiter. Venus is the brighter of the two and is to the right of Jupiter.

As each day in June passes the two planets will get closer to one another and on June 30th will be less than a degree apart! That is CLOSE.

Try taking a pic of the planetary pair using your cell phone camera or DSLR. It is best to wait until it is dark as the color and brightness of the two will be at their best. Taking a pic every few days and then comparing them will show their motion quite nicely.

It is the movement of Venus, Jupiter AND our planet Earth that causes this motion as all 3 orbit the Sun.

This is an event you will want to see.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Hey Space Placers!

Every second the New Horizons spacecraft is zooming closer to Pluto for the historic July 14th flyby of this last planet (it WAS a planet in 2006!) to be explored by a spacecraft.

NASA has created a website called PLUTO TIME that allows you to experience the amount of daylight Pluto receives from the Sun at a distance of over 3 billion miles.

You can get "Pluto Time" for your location by going to this website, entering your location and waiting for the appointed time. NASA also encourages you to take a photo of your Pluto time and submit it to Social Media using the #PlutoTime hashtag.

I will be taking Pluto Time pics myself and posting them on Twitter and hope you will do the same. I'm planning on my first one being at Shenandoah National Park.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 5, 2015

I Have Been In the Alaskan Bush the Past 6 Weeks

Hey Space Placers!

Been a LONG time.

I have been handling a family emergency in the bush of Alaska since April and have had no Internet. Thank goodness my iPhone worked but no go on doing a blog!

It has been interesting watching the ever increasing time of deep twilight and seeing no stars due to our high latitude of 60 degrees.

I watched Venus until AFTER MIDNIGHT which could never be done in the lower 48. The Moon wad also much lower in the sky than in the lower latitudes.

I am returning to the lower 48 Friday night and will be starting up my presentations at Shenandoah National Park this Sunday at Big Meadows http://www.goshenandoah.com/activities-events/astronomy.  I hope some of you could attend.

I look forward to seeing the stars again and blogging with you - this has been a physically and emotionally demanding time but I have made GREAT new friends and seen the best in people at a time when they were need the most.

Oh, here is a pic of brown bear tracks that were VERY close to where I was in the Bush and new born twin moose calves:

Together we have much to explore as New Horizons prepares to fly by Pluto next month and Rosetta continues to monitor Comet 67P.

Glad to be back.....

Sky Guy Returning to VA