Sunday, August 13, 2017

Eclipse Mania Is HERE! UPDATED

Hey Space Placers!


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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Water In The Moon's Interior?

Hey Space Placers!

Read all about new research results that indicates there may be water in the lunar interior.

Watery mantleEvidence from ancient volcanic deposits suggests that lunar magma contained substantial amounts of water, bolstering the idea that the Moon's interior is water-rich.Olga Prilipko Huber
With the proposed upcoming lunar missions in the next few years there should be additional findings that will help determine how much water there is and where it is located on the Moon.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Eclipse Balloons to Study Effect of Mars-Like Environment on Life

Hey Space Placers!

Read about how high altitude balloons will be used for research and live streaming during the August 21, 2017 eclipse.

mage from a balloon flight in November 2016 looking to the southwest. The Tetons and Yellowstone Lake can be seen on the left side of the frame representing a line of sight distance of over 150 miles from an altitude of about 75,000 feet.
Credits: Montana State University
Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2nd Annual Shenandoah National Park Night Sky Festival 8/18-8/21 2017

Hey Space Placers!

If you are going to be in the Washington, D.C. area August 18-21, 2017, consider going to Shenandoah National Park for the 2nd Annual Night Sky Festival.

This is a GREAT family event that encompasses day and evening events and activities centered around the night sky, space and astronomy.

I hope to see you there!

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Massive Explosion on Farside of the Sun

Hey Space Placers!

Humanity as a whole is so smug and secure in thinking we know everything and are in control of all things.

Today's activity on the Sun proves that we are just as at the mercy of such events in space as we are here on Earth when it comes to events in Nature.

Massive Explosion On Farside of Sun
The most important point in this story - besides the fact that we can detect and thereby get warning of such events - is that it occurred on the 5th anniversary of a Carrington Level Event

Spaceweather - powered by the Sun as is our weather here on Earth - is real and has consequences for humanity. NASA and NOAA work in partnership in both areas. A good thing for humanity.......

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, July 22, 2017

NASA Safety Tips For The 8/21/17 Solar Eclipse

Hey Space Placers!

LESS THAN 1 MONTH TO GO for the August 21, 2017 Total and Partial Solar Eclipse Across the USA.

NASA just released Safety Tips For The Eclipse   -   so PLEASE read and heed this advice.

I will have more on the eclipse as we get closer.

Make sure your eclipse glasses meet the stated specifications - mine do ;-)

NASA Equipped for the eclipse!
If you haven't gotten yours yet you should do so now.

Sky Guy in VA,

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Apollo 11 - 48 Years Later

Hey Space Placers!

48 years ago the world was glued to their TV sets and radios to watch the lunar landing attempt of Apollo 11's Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) 'Eagle' on the Sea of Tranquility. At 4:18 P.M. EDT Eagle touched down safely with less than 30 seconds of fuel left.

I watched events unfold with Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra on CBS News. One of my most prized books is the limited hard cover edition of 'CBS News Coverage of Man On The Moon' which was available only to CBS employees, which my Mom was at the time.

I also took ASA 200 Kodak Ektachrome color slides (which I developed myself) of the TV screen to memorialize the events - I still have them.

Here is what the sky looked like from Mount Wilson Observatory when Neil Armstrong set foot on the  Moon at 7:56 P.M. PDT:

The Sky AT Mount Wilson Observatory 7/20/69 7:56 P.M. EDT
Credit: SkySafari 5 Plus Software
I looked at the Moon with my Edmund Scientific 6" f/8 Newtonian telescope when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on its surface. Of course I couldn't see them BUT I was able to see the SURFACE of Mare Tranquility which was good enough for me. I regret not taking any pics of that observing session but I was really bouncing back and forth from the TV to telescope!

NASA astronauts went to the lunar surface five more times before Nixon killed Apollo Missions 18, 19 and 20 in a budget cutting move. What a waste - the Saturn V and Apollo spacecraft were already BUILT!!!! But when you are in a costly war all things are on the table to be cut........

Humanity is preparing in a BIG WAY to go back to the Moon and I believe to stay this time. I think the Chinese will have Taikonauts on the Moon first with perhaps Europe, Japan and Russia as well.

Full Moon
Greg Redfern
The Moon is the '5th continent' and it, like the U.S.  mainland of several centuries ago is beckoning intrepid explorers to set forth on expeditions of exploration. Moonships are the Calistoga Wagons of old and humans must learn to live off of the land of the Moon just like they did in days gone by.

Finding resources that are available and using them to survive and thrive is just as important now as it was then. Those 1st American explorers were even farther from help than astronauts are today - the difference is the lethality of the environment in terms of space opposed to Earth. Although weather, wildlife and human combat could kill you just as fast as the vacuum of space.

16 private companies, fueled by Google's LunarX Prize are working on lunar landers; SpaceX has two tourists who paid an unknown sum to go into lunar orbit next year. Russia plans on lunar tourism as well.

The Moon is the gateway to deep space and a future colony with its resources of water, sunlight for power and mineral wealth.

If humanity survives its earthbound madness the Moon beckons us. If we can rid ourselves of the hate, distrust and outmoded economic fallacies we now fall sway to, we might become a full fledged space faring species.

Can you imagine what worldwide space budgets of 10+% GNP of the respective space faring nations could achieve? If all of these Nations could pool their resources into a common goal acting on behalf of humanity as a whole?

Heady and seemingly unreachable goals. But then again, so was going to the Moon.

Apollo 11 showed us what TRUE commitment to a goal - financially, spiritually and wholeheartedly as a Nation - can do.

That to me is the true legacy of Apollo 11.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Hey Space Placers!


Enjoy my pics of the Moon and Venus dancing in the clouds along Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park.

On the morning of July 20 at 4 a.m. local time look to the East.

Glorious and bright Venus will be close to the Waning Crescent Moon for a stunning view. Try to find a horizon free of trees and buildings and no bright lights.

The Moon will have Earthshine - the unlit portion of the Moon that is visible due to the reflection of sunlight off our planet's clouds and oceans, which will only add to the overall beauty of this sky scene.

The celestial pair will be near the Pleiades Star Cluster and the bright orangish-colored star Aldebaran.

4 a.m. local 7/20/17 Morning Sky
Credit: SkySafari 5 Plus Software
I'll be up if it is clear to get some pics.


Sky Guy Greg

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Pluto Like You Have NEVER Seen It!

Hey Space Placers!

Enjoy this flyby of Pluto as seen from New Horizons images taken by the spacecraft during its historic flyby of Pluto TWO years ago - hard to believe.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Juno's Great Red Spot Pics

Hey Space Placers!

Juno did its flyby over Jupiter and the Great Red Spot and obtained stunning pics in the process.

This enhanced-color image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Jason Major using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA's Juno spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major
It will take time for scientists to analyze the data returned by Juno's instruments during the flyby. This will add to the knowledge we have gained about the 'King of the Planets' due to Juno.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sky Guy Internet ALERT! 7/10/17 Juno Flyby of Jupiter

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's Juno mission at Jupiter is going to do a flyby over the giant planet starting tonight at 9:55 p.m. EDT. This flyover is going to take the spacecraft directly over Jupiter's "Great Red Spot" (GRS)  which is a swirling weather system in the planet's clouds that has been ongoing for hundreds of years and is huge.

This true color mosaic of Jupiter was constructed from images taken by the narrow angle camera onboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft on December 29, 2000, during its closest approach to the giant planet at a distance of approximately 10 million kilometers (6.2 million miles).
Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
The GRS is visible in backyard telescopes and could easily hold three Earths within its borders!

Juno will train all 8 of its instruments and the JunoCam on the GRS during the flyby and will be about 5,600 miles above the clouds at closest approach. In other words, this will be the closest and quite possibly the best view humanity has ever had of the GRS!

The images are expected to be available on July 14th. You can see raw JunoCam images and download them yourself for processing.

The public votes on JunoCam Points of Interest (POIs) during each of the Jovian flybys and amateur astronomers can submit images taken of Jupiter to help the Juno team in flyby preparation.

Juno celebrated its 1st year in Jupiter orbit on the 4th of July.

Be sure to see some of my previous blog entries that showed the haunting images obtained by Juno during previous flybys.

Jupiter is visible in the South right after sunset; it is the brightest "star-like"object in the night sky. Take a peek tonight and wish Juno a great flyby and good data/pictures.

You can follow Juno on Twitter and Facebook.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, July 7, 2017

Planetary Defense Mission To Test Asteroid Deflection

Hey Space Placers!

Earth strikes back! NASA is designing a mission to hit an asteroid as part of our planetary defense.

DART would test deflection via an impact with an asteroid....a possible strategy if we found a space rock with our name on it. It would have to be far enough away so that such a strategy could work.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Get The Scoop About Asteroids

Hey Space Placers!

Been almost a week since Asteroid Day so check out this nifty NASA video and story.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Happy 4th to my US followers.

No Internet for the computer last 4 days.

The Milky Way is in the E sky now after sunset. Enjoy these recent pics I took at Capon Springs Resort, WV.

They REALLY show the gas, dust and star clouds of our galaxy.

You will have to wait until the Moon is out of the early evening sky - a few days after Full Moon.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 30, 2017

Asteroid Day 2017

Hey Space Placers!

Read all about Asteroid Day.

Look to see if there is an event in your area.

And be sure to tune in to the live NASA event.

Get involved. Protect our planet.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT! Jupiter & Moon 6/29-7/1

Hey Space Placers!

I've been in the WVA mountains and the Shenandoah Valley the last few days giving presentations to families about the lives of stars and the Moon. We also had two great star parties.

I even got to meet Yogi the Bear at Yogi Bear Campground in Luray, VA!

Yogi the Bear & Sky Guy!
Credit: Hannah
The Moon will approach bright Jupiter in the South tonight and be very close tomorrow night - you can't miss the two brightest objects in the night sky, so enjoy the view. Watching the Moon move from West to East near a bright object over a couple of nights really shows you how much the Moon moves each day.

The Moon & Jupiter 6/30/17
Credit: Sky Safari 5
 Tomorrow is Asteroid Day so be sure to check it out on my blog with lots of links and info.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tunguska Video

Hey Space Placers!

We are FIVE days away from Asteroid Day. Watch this incredible video about the largest impact event in modern history - the Tunguska Event.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, June 22, 2017

8/21/17 Solar Eclipse Update

Hey Space Placers!

Check out the details from yesterday's conference on the upcoming 8/21/17 solar eclipse that will cross the entire U.S.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Tune in to LIVE NASA event on the Total Solar Eclipse of 8/21/17.

Follow live at 1 PM EDT here.

You can also send in your questions via Social Media by using the hashtag #eclipse2017.

I'll have a wrap up live on WTOP Radio at 3:15 pm today.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

ESA GW Space Mission

Hey Space Placers!

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that they will build a gravitational wave detection spacecraft.  2034 is the expected launch date - it is going to take awhile to build these 3 spacecraft.

Artist's Conception of Merging Black Holes
Such a mission would add a huge capability to humanity's ability to detect gravitational waves (GW). The 3 laser detectors would be MILLIONS of kilometers apart instead of just several as Earth based GW are.

With such a capability we might even be able to detect GWs from the Big Bang itself.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sky Guy VIEWING ALERT! 6-20-17 Venus, Moon, Summer

Hey Space Placers!

Heads up and towards the East tomorrow morning as beautiful and bright Venus is joined by the Waning Crescent Moon before dawn. This will be worth getting up to see before dawn, around 4 a.m. local.

Moon & Venus 6-20-17
Created Using Sky Safari Pro 5
Greg Redfern
Tomorrow is also the Summer Solstice for parts of the U.S. with other time zones occurring on the 21st.

So enjoy the view and Summer!

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Elon Musk's Plans For Colonizing Mars

Hey Space Placers!

Read a paper that details Elon Musk's plans for Mars - and beyond.

It is a fascinating read and a hopeful plan for how humans will extend the species beyond Earth.

Musk rightfully describes the reasons why and provides some excellent hows as to getting humans to other places in the solar system.

Only time (and money spent) will tell if Musk and/or government space agencies are successful.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This Baby Is Gonna' Fly!

Hey Space Placers!

This pic shows a full up Orion Service Module that will fly into space beyond the Moon in the near future.


NASA is working towards the first Space Launch System (SLS) - Orion launch, Exploration Mission-1, sometime in 2020-2021.

Let's light that candle & GO!!!

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Read all about a rocket launch tonight that will be visible along the U.S. East Coast.

There are some other interesting stories as well that I think you will enjoy.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 9, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT Moon & Saturn 6/9/17

Hey Space Placers!

Today the Full Strawberry Moon is the farthest away Full Moon for 2017. Think of it as being the opposite of a Super Moon. The Moon will be Full at 8:01 a.m. EDT for U.S. East Coast.

Tonight the Moon will still be very bright and hard to detect any real changes to the casual observer. 

The planet Saturn will be to the lower right of the Moon.


If I get any decent pics I will send them along.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Congrats to the 2017 Astro Class

Hey Space Placers!

NASA announced its 12 newest astronaut candidates - culled from 18,300 applications! There are 5 women and 7 men, several doctors, pilots, a former Navy SEAL, scientists in a variety of fields and even a submariner. I say with unabashed Navy pride that the Navy rules in sheer numbers.

Here is their selfie which I love as it really captures their energy and camaraderie:

NASA's 2017 astronaut candidates stop to take a group photo while getting fitted for flight suits at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
After receiving a record-breaking number of applications to join an exciting future of space exploration, NASA has selected its largest astronaut class since 2000. Rising to the top of more than 18,300 applicants, NASA chose these 12 women and men as the agency’s new astronaut candidates. Pictured are, front row, left to right, Zena Cardman, Jasmin Moghbeli, Robb Kulin, Jessica Watkins, Loral O'Hara; back row, left to right, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren Hoburg, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, and Raja Chari.
Image Credit: NASA
The new Astronaut Candidates report to NASA in August to begin their training to become full fledged astronauts.
Get more information here on their bios. And see their video.
Sky Guy in VA 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A RARE Lunar Halo

Hey Space Placers!

Check out this pic of mine from 6/4/17 of a lunar halo which I thought looked unusual.

A Rare Lunar Halo On 6/4/17
Greg Redfern
A Rare Lunar Halo Close Up On 6/4/17
Greg Redfern
When I submitted my photo to the great folks at Earth & Sky, the editor Deborah Byrd, did some checking and found out some neat stuff. I had captured a rare lunar halo event

The funny part of this is that I had noticed a "regular" lunar halo earlier in the evening and took a pic with my iPhone and put it out on Twitter. But then I did my last look of the sky which I do every single night I noticed the unusual halo hanging low in the West. I went inside and got my camera and took a series of pics with different lenses. The rest is on the Internet ;-)

Moral of the story? always watch the sky and keep your camera handy!

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 2, 2017

Watch This Juno-Based Video in the Dark W/ Volume Up

Hey Space Placers!

Truth has caught up to science fiction when it comes to Jupiter thanks to NASA's Juno mission and the amazing video making work.

Here is the background on the video.

BTW, the music is from '2001: A Space Odyssey' when astronaut Dave Bowman prepares to explore the Monolith in Jupiter orbit. Amazing scene & music that I still vividly remember from 1968.

Jupiter: Juno Perijove 06 from Sean Doran on Vimeo.

Jupiter is visible in the South right at dusk. Check it out.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Immune System Studies on the ISS

Hey Space Placers!

I have always maintained that getting  to Mars is more of a biological problem that a technical problem. What I mean by that is that the health and functioning of astronauts on a long space voyage to say, Mars, is going to take a toll on the crew. Radiation exposure, eyeball changes, muscle and bone loss, and changes to the immune system are all hazards astronauts face.

The International Space Station (ISS) is the ONLY bio-laboratory where we can study these conditions and determine solutions.

Watch this video for more information and here is the story.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

You have to set aside 12 minutes and see this video that shows James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) from launch to L2. It is very, very good.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, May 26, 2017

LRO Takes A Hit

Hey Space Placers!

Just the other day I told you about the lunar impact monitoring program.

NASA today told us about a 2014 hit of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) while in lunar orbit.

LRO has been in lunar orbit since July 2009 and has written the books on the Moon.

View of moon with distortion
The first wild back-and-forth line records the moment on October 13, 2014 when the left Narrow Angle Camera's radiator was struck by a meteoroid.
Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
Quite the story, eh?  LRO can take a hit and keep on ticking.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Latest on Juno at Jupiter

Hey Space Placers!

NASA held a teleconference today about the latest findings from Juno at Jupiter.

Image: JunoCam image of Jupiter
Jupiter From Juno
Image Courtesy of NASA/Bruce Lemons
Click on the listings to read all about it: - Be SURE to check out the INCREDIBLE pics

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New ESA Lunar Impact Project

Hey Space Placers!

My fave place in the Universe, the Moon, is getting a new project. The European Space Agency (ESA) has started a study to detect and measure the temperature of lunar impacts.  These impacts happen frequently and this study will help improve our knowledge of their frequency, size and resulting crater formation.

Date: 24 May 2017
Depicts: Lunar impact flash
Copyright: NELIOTA project

In 11 hours of observing time 4 impacts were recorded by the 1.2 meter (48 inches) telescope and its cameras. The large aperture of the telescope and the sensitivity of the cameras should allow for the gathering of a large amount of data

NASA also has an lunar impact monitoring program but uses 14-inch telescopes.

I would love to be able to see one of these impacts. Amateur astronomers are participating in the NASA project.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, May 22, 2017

Update on Space Missions

Hey Space Placers!

Get the latest on space missions here.

Artist Concept of New Horizons at Pluto
Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Help Hunt For Exploding Stars

Hey Space Placers!

Join in the hunt for exploding stars - supernovae - by becoming part of a citizen science project.

This is just one of a number of astronomy citizen science projects that you can become part of at Zooinverse. The variety of projects includes hunting for 'Planet Nine', galaxies, exoplanets - a real 'Zoo" of space stuff ;-)

Whether you are an arm chair astronomer or an ardent telescope user, there is something for you to become part of.

Check it out and get involved.....the Universe awaits you.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Submarine Comms Affect Structure of Van Allen Radiation Belts

Hey Space Placers!

Interesting NASA video that shows how we are affecting the space around Earth.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NASA's Sounding Rockets

Hey Space Placers!

Learn all about NASA's little rocket workhorses - sounding rockets.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, May 12, 2017

I WISH This Was My Vacation Photo!

Hey Space Placers!

Look at THIS(!):

NASA HST Image of Galaxy Cluster Abel 370

This is a deep exposure taken by Hubble Space Telescope of Galaxy Cluster Abel 370. It shows MANY galaxies AND galaxies that are bent into arcs due to gravitational lensing.


Tomorrow we will look at the Milky Way Galaxy 5 million years into the future.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Good Primer On The Universe

Hey Space Placers!

Back in VA after a 12K mile land-sea jaunt......hopefully I will be more regular now in my postings ;-)

Milky Way at Sea
Greg Redfern
Here is a GOOD primer on the Universe as we know it from the good folks at Universe Today. Fraser Cain and his staff do an excellent job on covering the Universe et al.

There is a LOT we know and a LOT we don't know. BUT we are I think on the cusp of new discoveries about the Universe with new telescopes & their instruments and the Large Hadron Collider. It is an exciting time.

I hope you follow me on Twitter - @SkyGuyinVA - as I post pics and a lot of info there in real time...tough to do on a blog.

Tomorrow I will share pics from my trip.

Sky Guy BACK in VA

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!!!! Moon & Jupiter Close Tonight 5-7-17

Hey Space Placers!

Be sure to get outside and look at the Waxing Gibbous Moon and Jupiter as it gets dark. They will be very close to one another all night.

BTW the star below the celestial duo is Spica.

Enjoy this pic of a bison in Yellowstone National Park.

A Bison Less Than 4 Feet Away!
Greg Redfern
Sky Guy in Wyoming

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Happy Astronomy Day World!

Hey Space Placers!

Taken underway on Nautica in the Coral Sea 2/17/16
Greg Redfern
Happy Astronomy Day World! This is the 44th celebration and I hope you make the most of it today and TONIGHT!

I will be doing a drive by of the  Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)  in Hanford, WA tomorrow when I get off the ship and I can hardly wait. I won't be able to tour the facility but WILL get to see it. I look forward to sharing with you.

Sky Guy in Vancouver, BC

Friday, April 21, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!!! Full Moon & Jupiter 4/10/17

Hey Space Placers!

Hello from Jamaica!

Tonight the Full Pink Moon will be accompanied by brilliant Jupiter so be sure to look. The Full Pink Moon is named for the pink moss and flowers that bloom in early spring.

Enjoy these pics from the Oosterdam:

Sky Guy at Sea

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Event Horizon Telescope & Astronomy Month

Hey Space Placers!

from at sea aboard the ms Oosterdam in the Gulf of Mexico. 

A cosmic first got underway this week - humanity’s attempt to image a black hole using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)  . Using radio telescopes located around the globe to combine their separate signals into the equivalent of an Earth sized radio telescope antenna, the EHT will be making several observations.

Radio Telescopes like this one atop Mauna Kea, HI will be used worldwide
to obtain the 1st ever image of a black hole
Greg Redfern
EHT will try and image the supermassive black hole (SBH) located at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*)       and the SBH located in nearby galaxy M87. EHT will also be observing several other galaxies.

SBHs are thought to be at the center of most galaxies. Sgr A* is over FOUR MILLION times as massive as our Sun and is 26,000 light years distant.  Due to intervening gas and dust we cannot see the center of our Milky Way Galaxy using optical telescopes but we can do so using radio telescopes.  EHT has been a decade long project that has now come to fruition with this history making observing run.

EHT will be collecting a huge amount of data during its 10 day observing run. The first several days have been going well and according to schedule. After the observing run is concluded EHT astronomers will then begin the arduous task of correlating and analyzing all of the data to try and achieve the first ever image of Sgr A*. It will take months of work before they know if they have been successful and publication of their results is expected in 2018. 

April is Global Astronomy Month (GAM)  , organized each April by Astronomers Without Borders (AWB)  ( It is the world’s largest annual global celebration of astronomy and brings new ideas and new opportunities. GAM 2017 is currently underway and is bringing enthusiasts together worldwide to celebrate Astronomers Without Borders’ motto “One People, One Sky”. You can find more information one events here .

Be sure to look at bright Jupiter in the southeast at sunset as it will be in the sky for several months. Venus has moved to the morning sky and is visible before dawn. 

Sky Guy at Sea

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mighty Jupiter UPDATED & SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT 4/7/17 Jupiter



Info on Jupiter opposition from NASA.

Check out the latest pic of Jupiter taken by Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

You can see Jupiter for yourself by looking in the SE right at sunset as tomorrow Jupiter will be directly opposite the Sun or what astronomers call opposition. Jupiter will remain bright in the sky all night.

If you have binoculars you can see the four main moons if you hold the binoculars steady enough. Bracing against a wall or car top helps. A telescope really brings forth the 'King of The Planets' in all his glory.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is making preparations for its finale at the planet Saturn. This mission has written the book on the Saturnian system. The spacecraft is running on fumes and starting April 26 will begin its final phase - a 'Grand Finale' - eventually plunging into Saturn.

The September 15, 2017 death plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn is being done to protect the surrounding moons of Saturn, especially Enceladus, from any possible contamination. Enceladus has a warm ocean under all of its ice and is one of the prized places in the solar system to look for life.

Cassini will provide us an amazing look at the rings and Saturn for as long as possible and then become part of the planet it has studied for over 13 years.

Enjoy this amazing video that highlights the Cassini mission....enjoy the stunning vistas of Saturn.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

New Horizons Spacecraft Update

Hey Space Placers!

The New Horizons spacecraft will be at the halfway point to its next target, 2014 MU69 this Friday. The spacecraft is traveling at 32,000 miles per hour and is 3.5 BILLION miles from Earth. Controllers will place New Horizons into hibernation on April 7th after being awake and operational for the past 2 1/2 years. The spacecraft will remain in hibernation for 157 days and upon reawakening will start to prepare for the flyby of 2014 MU69 that will occur on 1/1/19.

A KBO among the Stars: In preparation for the New Horizons flyby of 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019, the spacecraft’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) took a series of 10-second exposures of the background star field near the location of its target Kuiper Belt object (KBO). This composite image is made from 45 of these 10-second exposures taken on Jan. 28, 2017. The yellow diamond marks the predicted location of MU69 on approach, but the KBO itself was too far from the spacecraft (544 million miles, or 877 million kilometers) even for LORRI’s telescopic “eye” to detect. New Horizons expects to start seeing MU69 with LORRI in September of 2018 – and the team will use these newly acquired images of the background field to help prepare for that search on approach.
Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Sleep well New Horizons!

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, April 1, 2017

SpaceX Makes History

Hey Space Placers!

SpaceX made history on March 30, 2017 by using a previously flown and recovered orbital class rocket to launch another spacecraft into orbit. This is the first time this has been done and will help to further decrease the cost of rocket launches.

Watch the mission launch replay.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT! Moon, Mercury, Mars 3/29-3/30

Hey Space Placers!

Check out the young waxing crescent Moon, Mercury and Mars in the night sky tonight and tomorrow night

Look West tonight about a half-hour after sunset and you will see the Moon just to the upper left of Mercury, which will be about a full fist-width above the horizon. You have to have a clear view of the horizon to get the best view. Mars is a bit farther up to the left.

On the 30th the Moon will be just to the upper left of Mars.

Be sure to look for Earthshine on the Moon which is the lunar surface illuminated by the reflection of sunlight off our planet's oceans and clouds....very beautiful.

Binoculars will help immensely in your viewing.


Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, March 26, 2017

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse Guide UPDATED

Hey Space Placers!

You are probably aware that there is a total solar eclipse occurring across the continental US on August 21, 2017. Millions of people will be able to see either a total or partial solar eclipse from wherever they are.

With just under 5 months to go now is the time to get ready for this event. Here is a COMPLETE guide to the eclipse courtesy of Sky and Telescope of which I am a long time subscriber as well as author.

The most important thing about the event is that you have to SAFELY observe the Sun. Be sure to read the safety guidelines.

This is part of S&T's Guide but I wanted to highlight it NASA has a Solar Eclipse Guide.

I will have more on this as we get closer to August.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Surviving Lunar Night

Hey Space Placers!

The Moon is going to be a place where humanity will build outposts to stay long term; it is only a question of when.

One of the biggest issues to a lunar outpost is how to keep people and facilities warm when there is no sunlight. The Moon has day and night but it is on an almost month long cycle as opposed to our 24 hour cycle.

Temps can drop drastically during the lunar night and will need a heat source to keep people alive in their facilities.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is working on this problem and is looking to using lunar soil as a solution. 

It will be interesting to see how this research pans out.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Maunakea Observatories Photo Essay

Hey Space Placers!

On a tour arranged by Holland America's Westerdam I was able to return to the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii earlier this month to see the numerous observatories located there. It has changed quite a bit since my last visit in 1992.

Yesterday's blog included a picture of the VLBA radio telescope that is part of the Event Horizon Telescope. SO I won't include it here today.

The biggest change being that the 10-meter Keck Observatory now has a twin Observatory, Keck II. These are currently the largest optical telescopes in the world, having surpassed the 5-meter Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory with the commencement of observations with Keck I in 1993.

Maunakea is a VERY special place because it has such clear and dry skies at almost 14,000 feet altitude. The telescopes there can observe above much of the Earth's atmosphere and enjoy excellent conditions. That is why there are so many telescopes there.

Collectively the Maunakea Observatories  are a very important asset in our study of the Universe. Here are some of the Observatories - refer to the link for more information about them.

Subaru Telescope
Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
NASA Infrared Telescope Facility
University of Hawaii Telescope
Gemini Telescope (foreground) and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (Center)
Submillimeter Array w/ 8 Antennas (Right)
United Kingdom Infrared Telescope
I hope to get back there someday when I can enjoy a night time few of the Observatories and the night's on my Bucket List.

Sky Guy in VA