Monday, October 16, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Do you remember what you were doing at 8:41 a.m. EDT August 17, 2017? 

At that moment two Gravitational Wave Observatories in the U.S. called LIGO   were detecting a ripple in space time caused by gravitational waves. LIGO had already discovered several black hole mergers  but this signal was far different in that it lasted 100 seconds and indicated a merger of two less massive objects had occurred. 

LIGO had just detected the merger of two neutron stars   

This animation captures phenomena observed over the course of nine days following the neutron star merger known as GW170817. They include gravitational waves (pale arcs); a near-light-speed jet that produced gamma rays (magenta); expanding debris from a "kilonova" that produced ultraviolet (violet), optical and infrared (blue-white to red) emission; and, once the jet directed toward us expanded into our view from Earth, X-rays (blue).
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab
Two seconds after LIGO’s gravitational wave detection NASA’s space based Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope     and shortly thereafter the European Space Agency’s INTEGRAL spacecraft also observed gamma rays. 

An alert went out to the worldwide astronomical community. Teams of astronomers scrambled to try and find the source of the gamma rays thought to be associated with the gravitational waves. A team of four Carnegie astronomers  
along with colleagues at UC Santa Cruz   used the Swope telescope at Las Campanas Observatory to be the first to discover the light produced by the merger.

This was the first-ever glimpse in visible light of two neutron stars colliding and pinpointed the origin of the gravitational wave signal less than 11 hours after it was detected by LIGO.  This team also obtained the earliest spectra - or chemical fingerprints - of the merger, which will help astronomers explain how many of the universe’s heavy elements were created.

Their observations and others using the Italy based VIRGO gravitational wave observatory, 70 telescopes both space and ground based, 100 instruments and thousands of astronomers and physicists resulted in the birth of “Multi-Messenger Astronomy”.

For the first time ever observation of gravitational waves and light across the entire electromagnetic spectrum had been conducted. The source of this neutron star merger was in a galaxy called NGC 4993 located 130 million light years from Earth in the southern constellation Hydra  .

These two neutron stars were created by two supernovas    just two billion years after the Big Bang   and had been orbiting each other for eleven billion years. They were only 200 miles apart when 100 seconds later they merged to emit gravitational waves and create a Kilonova    that was 200 million times the brightness of the Sun.  

During the media telecon sponsored by the National Science Foundation I asked if astronomers knew what the new object was resulting from the merger and subsequent kilonova. The panel responded that, “No firm knowledge of the end state (yet) but X-ray observations suggest it should be a very light mass black hole or the most massive neutron star. More observations will help us determine the answer”.

What astronomers do know is that the kilonova produced heavy elements, especially gold, platinum, uranium. Stars during their lives and deaths manufacture all of the natural elements we see on the Periodic Table of Elements other than Hydrogen which was created by the Big Bang. This process, called nucleosynthesis   continuously seeds the Universe with the elements necessary to create planets and life. 

According to Dr. Edo Berger, an astronomer at Harvard University and part of today’s panel, the observed kilonova showed “The direct fingerprints of the (creation of) heavy elements for the first time ever, producing 16,000 times the mass of the Earth in heavy elements and tens of times the mass of the Earth in gold and platinum”.

This groundbreaking discovery was made possible by the 30-plus years of LIGO-gravitational wave funding provided by NSF. Dr. Frances Cordova, NSF’s Director, was kind enough to respond to my email questions about this discovery.

As an astrophysicist, what are your personal feelings about this discovery? 
An as astrophysicist and director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), I couldn’t be more excited knowing that on any given day a wondrous discovery is waiting to be found. Each discovery is unique and serves as a beacon to keep searching, to keep seeking, and for NSF, to keep investing in fundamental research. One of my early engagements as a young astronomer was to further multiwavelength astronomy, or linking together telescopes around the world and in space to observe transient phenomena. This was the same theme as today's announcement, but there weren’t gravitational waves then. We had no idea at that time how much more information could be derived by opening the gravitational wave window on the universe.

As a follow up, what is the scientific significance of this discovery?
This discovery is the first verification of a "kilonova" explosion, confirming binary neutron star collisions as one source for the universe's heaviest elements, such as gold and uranium. The fact that we can still learn about the universe is worth its weight in gold, or should I say uranium. It is also confirmation that binary neutron star infall is one way to produce short gamma-ray bursts, whose origin has been a mystery. 

The significance for the National Science Foundation is LIGO demonstrates the value of funding basic research by doing extraordinarily hard engineering projects that can have profound implications for our understanding of the nature and evolution of the universe. LIGO is one of the largest experiments the agency has ever funded and researchers at NSF's twin LIGO detectors and the Virgo detector located GW170817 with unprecedented precision, allowing telescopes on the ground and in space to rapidly turn their attention towards the area of sky where the neutron stars collided.

What do you think will be the "Next Big Discovery" in Gravitational Wave Astronomy?
Not sure! Could be witnessing gravitational waves from supernovae, or the imprint of gravitational waves on the microwave background formed during a very early epoch in the formation of our universe. We didn't know what the first results would be from LIGO, and we can't truly foresee what the next results from this or other gravitational wave experiments operating at different frequencies will be. That's the whole point of fundamental research -- it can lead to new and surprising results that transform our understanding of nature and the cosmos. 

What is the future role of the NSF as to LIGO/Gravitational Wave Astronomy?
This was the first event in a new era of "multi-messenger" observations, a new window on the universe.  Moving forward, LIGO-VIRGO will be making many more observations.  With multi-messenger astronomy, scientists will observe the most powerful events in the universe from the first gravitational-wave pulse to the cascade of particles and electromagnetic energy that streams toward Earth, offering new and more complete insights into nature's biggest explosions. The role of NSF is to keep moving ahead to increase the volume of the universe sampled, and hence the number and perhaps kinds of sources detected; this can be done by steadily increasing the sensitivity of the gravitational wave facilities. 

This was a fortuitous discovery as the LIGO observatories were due to be shut down for a year to undergo major upgrades in sensitivity that will greatly expand their capabilities. Not only that, but just nine days later the Sun would have blocked the signal.

Observations will continue and more science papers will be written about this historic event. But as explained by Dr. Cordova the future is bright for “Multi-Messenger Astronomy” - all you have to do is look at whatever gold you own for proof.

I can hardly wait.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, October 13, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

This coming Monday, October 16, there will be a HUGE announcement made by the Gravitational Wave Astronomy community.

I have been provided advance notice of the announcement by those involved but it is embargoed until Monday, which of course I am honoring.

I will have this exciting news available for you as soon as the embargo ends which will be after 10 am EDT. I will be participating in the media telecon so I expect to have a blog out after it concludes.

Sky Guy in VA


Hey Space Placers!

Want to know what NASA's "Top 10" (my word, not theirs) upcoming missions for space exploration are?

InSight, JWST, Orion-SLS
Read all about these very exciting missions.

We will definitely have some very, very exciting discoveries and mysteries in the tears ahead.

I can hardly wait to share them with you.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Here is the latest on NASA's efforts regarding protection of astronauts in space.

This is a difficult problem that has to be solved before we venture into space beyond the Earth's protective magnetic field.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

We will have a close call from an asteroid tonight (Oct 11/12)  that will pass well within the Moon's orbit at 26,000 miles above the Earth. It is similar in size to the Chelyabinsk asteroid that exploded over that city on 2/15/14 with over half a million tons of TNT explosive force.

This animation depicts the safe flyby of asteroid 2012 TC4 as it passes under Earth on Oct. 12, 2017.
This animation depicts the flyby of small asteroid 2012 TC4 as it passes under Earth. On Oct. 12 EDT (Oct. 11 PDT), 2012 TC4 will safely pass by Earth at a distance of approximately 26,000 miles (42,000 kilometers). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA and others will be testing the international asteroid warning network to see how well observations are coordinated.

More info here.

Viewers can tune in on line at 7:59 PM EDT 10/11/17.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

BIG DISCOVERY announced on 10/9/17 - Two teams of astronomers have discovered the missing normal matter in the Universe. This really is a big deal as you will read about in this article.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, October 6, 2017

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

On October 5th brilliant Venus will be VERY close to dim Mars in the East about an hour before sunrise. Try to get a clear horizon and use binoculars to enhance your view. The pair will stay close through the weekend.

On October 5th at sunset the Full Harvest Moon will be making a grand appearance in the Northern Hemisphere. Look once again to the East after sunset to see the beautiful Harvest Moon.

Here's to Clear Skies for all....

Sky Guy in VA


Hey Space Placers!

Today is the 60th anniversary of Sputnik - the first spacecraft to orbit the Earth. Launched by the USSR it spawned the space race (and space age) which eventually led to America landing astronauts on the Moon.

The 1st citizen scientist project of the Space Age - Project Moonwatch - was started to monitor the orbit of Sputnik and other satellites to help refine the Earth's shape and orbit.

Now 60 years into the Space Age you can send your name to Mars on NASA's next mission to the Red Planet, InSight. You have until November 1st to sign up, so join me in doing so. 

As you can see I am a Frequent Flyer with NASA's missions!

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Wow! What GREAT timing on my part ;-)

After yesterday's blog on gravitational waves Nobel Prizes were awarded to three of the pioneering scientists involved in the decade long search.
Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne are your 2017 Nobel Laureates in physics.
Credit: Nobel Media. III. N. Elmehed
Here is an article that gives a good perspective on gravitational waves and the awarding of the Nobel Prize to these three.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, October 2, 2017

Gravitational Wave Observatories Detect 4th Black Hole Pair Merger

Hey Space Placers!

The 4th detection of gravitational waves from a black hole pair merging took place in August 2017. Unlike the previous three detections by two US based gravitational wave observatories in Washington state and Louisiana, this event was also seen by a new gravitational was observatory in Italy.

At some point we will have the detection of a neutron star merging event - maybe with a black hole or another neutron star. That will be something.......not that merging black holes are dull ;-)

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

NASA announced today that the launch window for James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has moved from October 2018 to Spring 2019.

Greg Redfern
From the press release: “The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. “Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected.”

The telescope is finishing up cryotesting in Houston and was not harmed by Hurricane Harvey. It will be shipped soon to Redondo Beach, CA for the integration to the spacecraft.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

As predicted, a record number of Americans viewed the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse.

Very cool.........

A look back.........

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Good Summary of NASA's Plans

Hey Space Placers!

I'm sorry I have been somewhat sporadic in getting my blog out but I have been dealing with a family medical issue that is requiring my full attention and efforts and will for the next 4 months. I'll do my best to publish daily......

Here is a great summary of what NASA plans to do in manned spaceflight efforts in the years to come. I look forward to seeing these plans come to fruition and I hope to see the 1st launch of SLS.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Slingshot To Bennu

Hey Space Placers!

See the video and read about how Earth's gravity acts as a slingshot for a spacecraft headed to an asteroid.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cosmology 101

Hey Space Placers!

Watch the video and read the story to learn about a very critical number in our understanding of the Universe - Hubble's Constant.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!! Weekend Moon & Planets Before Sunrise

Hey Space Placers!

No matter where you are in the Northern Hemisphere this weekend has some GREAT skywatching in the hours before dawn in the East.

The waning crescent Moon, Venus, Mercury, Mars and bright Regulus will all be visible against the backdrop of the wonderful winter constellations.

Venus, Regulus, Mercury, Mars in the dawn, Sept. 16, 2017
Venus, Regulus, Mercury, Mars in the dawn, Sept. 17, 2017
Get full details here.  


Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, September 14, 2017

SKY GUY INTERNET ALERT 9/15/17: Farewell Cassini, Onward Voyagers

Hey Space Placers!

Today around the world much of the astronomical community is profoundly moved by the impending death of the Cassini spacecraft Twitter abounds in Tweets about the intrepid explorer that has been in space almost 20 years and in orbit around Saturn and its moons for 13 years. I am quite sure there are a few wet eyes behind those Tweets for what NASA is calling the Grand Finale .

Artist's illustration of NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn
In this computer generated visual Saturn looms ever larger to the Cassini spacecraft as it begins its final plunge into Saturn.
At approximately 7:55 a.m. EDT, September 15, 2017, NASA expects to lose contact with Cassini as the spacecraft hits the upper atmosphere of the ringed planet at a blistering 70,000 miles per hour . An explorer to the very end, Cassini will be live streaming its last moments and gathering data with 8 of its 12 science instruments until the thrusters cannot overcome the aerodynamic forces and Cassini starts to tumble, break apart and finally be consumed like a shooting star in the atmosphere of Saturn. 

It will take 83 minutes for Cassini’s final data transmission to reach Earth traveling at the speed of light - 186,000 miles per second. Almost a billion miles away Saturn and its moons will once again be solitary in their orbit around the Sun. Gone will be the amazing spacecraft that took thousands of photographs, collected Terabytes of data, sent the ESA’s Huygens lander to Titan      and discovered a large global ocean under the thick ice at Enceladus  .

As stated by NASA,“the final set of views from Cassini's imaging cameras is scheduled to be taken and transmitted to Earth on Thursday, Sept. 14. If all goes as planned, images will be posted to the Cassini mission website beginning around 11 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. PDT). The unprocessed images will be available at:  .”

“Live mission commentary and video from JPL Mission Control will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website from 7 to 8:30 a.m. EDT (4 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. PDT) on Sept. 15. A post-mission news briefing from JPL is currently scheduled for 9:30 a.m. EDT (6:30 a.m. PDT), also on NASA TV.”

“A new NASA e-book, The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini, showcasing compelling images and key science discoveries from the mission, is available for free download in multiple formats at:  .”

Bright Saturn is in the southwest sky after dark. Tonight look at Saturn and say farewell to Cassini. And when ‘The Grand Finale” for Cassini is finally over take some comfort as will I in knowing that the atoms that were Cassini are now part of Saturn.


Two NASA spacecraft - Voyager 1 and Voyager 2    - made world-wide headlines recently by celebrating their 40th anniversaries in space. Voyager 1 is about 13 billion miles from Earth and is cruising interstellar space while Voyager 2 is 11 billion miles distant. The spacecraft are healthy and continue to send data back to Earth. They will finally go silent years from now when their radioactive fuel supply is spent.

These twins opened up the outer solar system of gas giant planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - as we had never seen them before  . With their respective flybys the Voyagers transformed these giants from what could be obtained through telescopes to up close and mesmerizing personal views. The science obtained filled volumes and the photographs we saw transformed these worlds into actual worlds we had been to.

The Voyagers have become cultural icons due in part to their longevity, discoveries and perhaps most importantly of all, the “Golden Record”   that each of them carries. The late Dr. Carl Sagan was the primary mover in getting these artifacts of Earth and humanity placed on the Voyagers. He also convinced NASA to take the first ever portrait of the solar system which included our Earth .

Solar System Portrait - 60 Frame Mosaic.
The famous “Pale Blue Dot” photograph became the subject of a wonderful book by Dr. Sagan. Much of what he wrote is even more meaningful today . I highly recommend reading it as well as Sagan’s other books.

 The Voyagers may very possibly outlive humanity as they could roam the Milky Way Galaxy for hundreds of millions of years. Unless they collide with something in space they will be a lasting testament to a species who reached for the stars  - and put a Golden Record out amongst them to say, ‘Hello’.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cassini Video - MUST SEE!!

Hey Space Placers!

Watch this video - it is one of the BEST NASA has produced. I watched it a dozen times - awe inspiring. I will have more on Cassini's fiery end next week.


Friday, September 8, 2017

UPDATED Sky Guy ALERT Severe Geomagnetic Storm Underway

Hey Space Placers!



3 Atlantic hurricanes, an 8.2 earthquake and an X9 solar flare that leads to G4 (severe) geomagnetic storms. Watch this video to see raw power, especially the second one.

Humanity exists on this planet ONLY because the weather and geology allow it. Change either of them and you change humanity.

Right now we are witnessing the awesome power of Mother Nature in weather, geology and space weather. It is something to behold and comprehend.

Check NOAA SWPC for more details and updates. Could be Aurora tonight.

Sky Guy in VA humbled by Mother Nature's display of  space/terrestrial weather and geology

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Horizons Flight Plan for 2014 MU69

Hey Space Placers!

With solar flares, hurricanes and general political  dysfunction dominating the world, the Universe goes on.

Such it is with the New Horizons mission which just filed its flight plan for the 1/1/18 flyby of 2014 MU69. 

Artist's concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flying by a possible binary 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019.
Artist's concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flying by a possible binary 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019. Early observations of MU69 hint at the Kuiper Belt object being either a binary orbiting pair or a contact (stuck together) pair of nearly like-sized bodies with diameters near 20 and 18 kilometers (12 and 11 miles).
Credits: Carlos Hernandez
This will be an amazing feat in the history of the solar system exploration as it will be the farthest encounter with a solar system object to date.

Sky Guy in VA

PS - If you are the path of Irma, be prepared....that includes you SC, NC, AND VA>

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Earth is due to get a solar storm that will likely produce Aurora for the upper latitudes.

Check here for details  and here for NOAA Space Weather.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Florence Flyby Reveals TWO MOONS!

Hey Space Placers!

Read my blog from yesterday about Florence for background and then check out the results of the flyby that revealed the true size of this big boy asteroid - 2.8 miles - and its TWO moons!

Animated sequence of radar images of asteroid Florence obtained on Sep. 1, 2017 using the 70-m antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications complex. The resolution of these images is about 75 meters. The images show two moons orbiting the much larger central body, which is about 4.5 km in diameter. The inner moon briefly disappears as it moves behind the central body and is hidden from the radar. (NASA/JPL).
GIF of Radar Images of Florence & TWO Moons

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sky Guy Internet ALERT!!! 9/1/17 BIG Space Rock Florence Flyby

Hey Space Placers!

A BIG asteroid, 3122 Florence passed by today at 8:06 a.m. EDT JUST 18 times the distance to the Moon - THAT is a close shave in terms of distance - a little over 4 million miles.

From EarthSky:
Radar images of asteroid 3122 Florence, obtained from August 29, 2017 via Goldstone Radar in California. Higher resolution radar images expected in the next few days, as the space rock will also be studied from Arecibo Observatory. Image via NASA/JPL.
Florence will be visible tonight in backyard telescopes and maybe even binoculars if you know where to look.

From EarthSky:
During late August and early September, the near-Earth asteroid 3122 Florence passes Earth as close as 4.4 million miles from Earth. It will be bright enough to spot in modest backyard telescopes, and possibly binoculars. Note that the labeled dates on this chart mark the asteroid’s location at 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time; translate to your time zone. Diagram via
You can get more details on how to spot Florence here. I will be clouded in until Sunday so I will try to watch the flyby via  Bareket Observatory in Israel host a webcast of this asteroid pass on September 1, 2017 beginning at   EDT.

At at about 3 miles across Florence would cause great devastation to our planet if it were to hit. NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office tracks Florence as well as other asteroids and comets.

We need telescopes and spacecraft to detect and protect our planet from these interlopers. If not, we will go the way of the dinosaurs someday as they were wiped out by a comet or asteroid about twice the size of Florence.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sky Guy INTERNET ALERT!!! Star Party Season

Hey Space Placers!

It is that time of year when the skies are getting darker earlier and the cool, crisp temps of Fall make for great observing conditions.

Our good friends at EarthSky have compiled a list of star parties for you to check and see if one is in your area.

Star Parties are a great time to meet and mingle with fellow observers and get to see the sky AND a variety of telescopes. They are great for families too as you get outdoors and enjoy each others' company under the starry night.

There was one Sky Festival missing - the Jasper Dark Sky Festival  - at which yours truly is attending representing NASA at the SPACETALKS segment. I sent EarthSky an email so I hope they will add it to their list.

I am headed to the Omni Homestead Resort to conduct two stargazing sessions this weekend for the guests. Even Resorts are into stargazing!

Get to one of these events - you will be glad you did!

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

LRO Sees The Solar Eclipse

Hey Space Placers!

Check out the view of the eclipse from the MOON via Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)......unreal.

I was in the Moon's shadow when LRO took its PIC! Wow!!!!! I was part of that image!!!!

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cassini Mission Coming to An End

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's Cassini mission is coming to an end next month after writing the textbooks on the Saturn system.

Learn More About it:

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Been getting caught up and back to reality after the eclipse.

Here are my processed eclipse pics - NO COLOR CHANGE. I only tweaked contrast and exposure.

Corona In ALL Its Glory
Prominences Pink Areas) On the Sun
Diamond Ring & Corona
This land based eclipse surpassed my sea based eclipse in 1998. The Temp drop was over 15 degrees and the surrounding darkness more profound.

Hope to see 2024!

Sky Guy Greg

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Eclipse Mania Is HERE! UPDATED

Hey Space Placers!

In Cookeville TN, 2m35s totality & weather is forecast to be CLEAR! I hope you have pics for you tomorrow .


I will be leaving this blog in place UNTIL 8/21/17 so readers can get eclipse information.


NASA Eclipse Simulator

I hope you will watch the video from my Fox 5 segment.


Got your APPROVED eclipse sunglasses?  If you don't, ACT NOW.

Read my story about the eclipse and where you can buy approved solar eclipse glasses, check out nationwide events and how to watch NASA's LIVE STREAM coverage.

Here's to clear skies and safe viewing by all.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT! Perseids Peak

Hey Space Placers!

Perseid 2016 SNP
Greg Redfern
The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks this weekend so get out and look. The Moon will interfere but there will be bright meteors available.

Here's to clear skies.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Here it direct form NASA - August is a BIG month for astronomy! Hope you will see the sky sights.

Sky Giu in VA

Monday, August 7, 2017

NASA: Eclipse Eye Safety; Message to Voyager; Phony Perseids

Hey Space Placers!

The latest from NASA.

In the U.S. mainland - two weeks to the eclipse! Please READ AND HEED NASA's Eye Safety information.  Improper viewing will cause permanent eye damage! Be sure your eclipse glasses are certified and in proper condition. If you haven't gotten your yet, use the AAS Vendor List to order.

NASA is asking the public to compose a 60 character message for consideration by NASA and the voting public. The winning message will be beamed into interstellar space on the 40th anniversary of Voyager 1's launch, 9/5/77. Entries are due 8/15/17 by 11:59 p.m. EDT. I sent in an entry....I hope you will too.

Yesterday's blog had a link to a story about how the 'net in abuzz about this year's Perseid Meteor Shower being the greatest of all time...NOT! It will be a so-so shower as I wrote because of the Moon. This is an instance when the 'net propagates junk.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sky Guy ALERT: A Festival & A Shower

Hey Space Placers!

Tired of the ‘Dog Days’ of August? Want to get away to cool breezes, lush greenery and star filled skies? Shenandoah National Park (SNP)  is always your answer but now with an added bonus - the Second Annual Night Sky Festival   . Family friendly with astronomy stuff for all ages, the Night Sky Festival will occur over four days and nights - rain or shine. Most of the events are free. Rooms can be booked and there are places to eat to facilitate your stay

August 18th to the 21st, the Park will be hosting presentations, telescopes, activities and viewing the partial solar eclipse  !  If the weather cooperates there will be telescopes available for Festival goers to see our star, the Sun, during selected days - especially on the 21st for the partial solar eclipse - with properly filtered telescopes.

For your own viewing of the eclipse it is ESSENTIAL for your eye safety that you have the proper eclipse viewing glasses  .  Failure to do so will result in permanent eye damage.

WTOP will have a special eclipse story on August 13th with the latest listings for solar eclipse viewing events in our area as well as other eclipse tidbits.

Due to light pollution 80% of Americans cannot see the Milky Way Galaxy, our home galaxy.  At SNP, especially this time of year, the Milky Way is a celestial splendor that can be seen sprawling across the sky from the South to the North. Many guests to SNP have never seen it and some are moved to tears when they view the milky band for the first time. The Moon will be out of the sky for this year’s Festival so the Milky Way will be at its best.

I hope you will join the SNP staff and I at the Night Sky Festival. The Park’s astronomy events continue throughout the season  if you get the astronomy bug during the Festival.

See you there!

If you already have the astronomy bug then you will want to be on the look out for the Perseid Meteor Shower     which is currently ramping up to the peak of the shower on the mornings of August 11-13.

The Moon will be bright and interfere with the number of Perseids we can this year but it is well worth looking anyway. The Perseids can produce bright meteors and SNP is the perfect place in our area to view them. Even living in the suburbs allows skywatchers to see the brighter meteors.

A bright Perseid Meteor lights up SNP skies
Credit: Greg Redfern
So here’s to CLEAR skies for our Festival, Shower and Eclipse!

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

NASA's Planetary Defense

Hey Space Placers!

One question I get asked ALOT after I give my presentations on meteorites and Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater, is, "Are we doing anything to protect ourselves from these threats?"

Than answer is a resounding "YES" as you can see in this nifty video just released by NASA:

I also have my audiences repeat after me, "The dinosaurs are dead because they didn't have a space program and telescopes".

Learn more about NASA's Planetary Defense Office.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, July 31, 2017

New Molecules Necessary For Life Found At Titan

Hey Space Placers!

Great reading about Titan, Saturn's moon that is thought to resemble in many ways our primordial Earth.

I highly recommend that your follow our good friends at EarthSky on Twitter, Facebook or one of their other Social media outlets. They also have a daily email you can sign up for on their home page - always worth reading.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Very Interesting Article - Are We Made Of Other Galaxy Stuff?

Hey Space Placers!

Here is a very interesting article about how galactic winds could be responsible for galaxy growth and the atomic matter in galaxies.

The article states that up to half of all the matter in our Milky Way Galaxy could have come from other smaller galaxies. Ultimately that would mean that half of the atoms that make each one of us up would have come from other galaxies!

Raw material for future stars in the form of gas and dust abound in our Milky Way Galaxy
as can be seen in this picture taken at Shenandoah National Park
Credit: Greg Redfern
We know that the natural elements, other than Hydrogen, are made in the nuclear fusion process that powers the stars and when more massive stars die. But the gas, dust and elements that go into making the protostar would contain a large proportion of matter from other galaxies if this research is correct.

We also know that galaxies grow by collisions with other galaxies which forms a new galaxy in the process. We see this happening throughout the Universe, including our own Milky Way Galaxy. In about 4 billion years the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies will collide to ultimately form a new galaxy - Milkomeda.

Additional research will be conducted to try and prove the results of this supercomputing result.

Sky Guy in VA