Friday, December 29, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Can you guess what my 'Top Space Story for 2017' is?

Hint: it was golden!

Enjoy the read.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

This is a truly amazing find.....the most distant black hole yet discovered is 800 million times the mass of our Sun AND it formed only 690 million years after the Big Bang.

This artist's concept shows the most distant supermassive black hole ever discovered. It is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang. Credit: Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science
Astronomers are really scratching their heads to come up with how such a whopper black hole could grow so large in such a short time (cosmically speaking).

This find also seems to be the only one of its kind which will be very valuable to astronomers trying to determine the conditions in the Universe when it was only 5% of its age.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

I hope everyone had a GREAT Holiday get together.

Mighty (and bright) Jupiter is visible in the hours before dawn in the eastern sky. NASA's Juno spacecraft continues to explore the 'King of the Planets' and the data continue to be received and analyzed.

The Great Red Spot (GRS) of Jupiter has been visible in telescopes, including backyard 'scopes for centuries. The GRS has been slowly shrinking and the color has faded. It has been the longest lasting storm in the solar system.

I hope to get a pic of the GRS to share when the weather clears. But in the meantime enjoy flying into the Jovian maelstrom:

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

The Center of the Milky Way Galaxy
Taken by Greg Redfern in the Coral Sea
Did you know the Roman Catholic Church employs a staff of professional priest-astronomers who conduct a wide variety of astronomical research and observations? That Pope Francis believes in the Big Bang  - the leading theory as to how our Universe came into being?

With Christmas upon us this is a GREAT article to read about science and faith (at least in the Catholic Church).

I have encountered people who say that their particular pastor says "the Universe is only 40,000 years old according to the Bible" or similar type exultations. My standard response is that "everyone is entitled to their beliefs" - I don't even try to change their minds because they are making their statement(s) AFTER hearing one of my astronomy presentations.

For those who debunk the "Big Bang" because it isn't faith based, I simply tell them about the Vatican Observatory and the Catholic Church's stance on the validity of the Big Bang. That is usually an eye opener to them and takes them aback a bit, usually wandering off muttering to themselves.

Modern day science and mainstream religion are NOT in conflict from what I have seen, read and experienced. The conflict usually arises when someone has been exposed to dogma from an individual who professes to know precisely what the Bible says/means when it comes to the Universe.

Science-faith conflict is like all other conflicts we have in this world - they are human made.

Enjoy this Holiday season and revel in the beauty and majesty that is the night sky - AND our ability to seek to understand it by ALL legitimate means available to us.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, December 22, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

If you like the annual December Geminid Meteor Shower you will want to read this article about how 3200 Phaethon was imaged when it passed by Earth recently.

Even better is the fact that the Arecibo Radio Telescope that was damaged recently in the Puerto Rico hurricane has been repaired and was able to take these amazing images.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

The EXACT moment of the Winter Solstice is today, December 21, 2017 at 11:28 a.m. EST. The Sun will be at its lowest point in your sky for the year and the night will be the longest. We start gaining more daylight each day after.

I hope to post a pic of the Sun at the moment of the Solstice later.

Winter Solstice 2017 Sun

Winter Solstice 2017 Sun
Greg Redfern
Enjoy the holiday season and especially the winter stars......

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Portrayal of 'Oumuamua (1I/2017 U1)
This portrayal of 'Oumuamua (1I/2017 U1) suggests a less elongated shape. Some asteroid specialists have questioned how extreme this body's length-to-width ratio might be.
ESO / M. Kornmesser

Here are the latest findings on Oumuamua which I blogged about previously.

Results are still pending from the radio observations that were made of the object.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, December 18, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

NASA will be announcing a new solar system mission in a love teleconference this Wed., 12/20/17 at 2 p.m. EST.

Here are the missions in the running:

  • Comet Surface Sample Return
  • Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
  • Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
  • Saturn Probe
  • Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
  • Venus In Situ Explorer

OH MAN HOW I WOULD 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍  a Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My $$ is on "Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)" selection. I say that because we just finished 10+ years at Saturn, have had several missions active, with more to come in the asteroid belt, Venus is Venus (not a top planetary priority as there have been previous missions to Venus) and  there have been recent comet missions.

NASA is excited about Enceladus due to its subsurface liquid ocean so that is why I think it is the front runner.

The Lunar mission would be very exciting as we would be returning to the SURFACE of the Moon - no one has done that recently except the Chinese - and we would lear a lot about an area of the Moon that we have only explored by lunar orbiting missions.

I'll be tuning in to see who gets selected.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Read all about the "X-Files" unit in the Pentagon that was dedicated to investigating U.S. military UFO sightings.

I personally think this is a good thing as ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE in the Universe. Are these alien spacecraft? other countries' advanced prototypes? Who knows.

The fact that we do not know more than justifies inquiring about them as best we can.

The Truth Is Out There......

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

I hope you have signed up to see the International Space Station. It is ALWAYS amazing to see 1 million pounds of space hardware the size of a football field traveling at 17,500 mph with humans on board.

This was my view last night:

ISS Rises in the NW Amidst Clouds & the Milky Way
Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

A Bright Meteor
Greg Redfern
Here comes the Geminid Meteor Shower!

Bundle up and get outside to see what I think will be the BEST meteor shower of the year!!!!

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

Interesting read. Only time will tell as to the origin of these microbes.

As the late, great Carl Sagan said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". We have been down this road before with possible life forms found in an Antartica meteorite from Mars.

Let's see what the worldwide scientific community comes up with in their analysis.

Sky Guy 2 days Out of Miami.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!!! SUPERMOON SUNDAY 12/3/17

Hey Space Placers!

Hello from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean aboard Regent Seven Seas EXPLORER. It has been a typical trans-Atlantic crossing in November - read cloudy and stormy - BUT it appears to be clearing just in time for Supermoon Sunday !   I am hoping to photograph the Full Cold Supermoon as it rises above the sea horizon - that should be something to see. 

On Sunday at sunset you will see a glorious Full Cold   Supermoon rising in the East after sunset that may appear brighter and a bit larger than other Full Moons of 2017. The Moon will be at Full phase (directly opposite the Sun) at 10:47 a.m. EST  on Sunday and at perigee (closest to the Earth for the month) on December 4th  at 3:42 a.m. EST - less than 24 hours apart hence the Supermoon.

This is the only Supermoon for 2017 and is also the closest Full Moon for the year. 

This time of year will also make this Supermoon brighter as explained by NASA, ”because the Earth will be at its closest to the Sun (called perihelion) in early January, the sunlight reaching and reflecting off the Moon this time of year is about 7% more intense (than at aphelion in early July), making winter-time supermoons even brighter.” estimates that this Full Cold Suppermoon will be 8% wider and 16% brighter than an average Full Moon. Experienced moon watchers can tell the size difference but the extra brightness is usually noticed by all.

Go out tonight and enjoy the almost Full Cold Supermoon. If Sunday is a wash out don’t fret.  We will have two Supermoons in January - the second being a Blue Moon that will also undergo a total lunar eclipse       that will only be a partial lunar eclipse before sunrise for the DMV.

Oh, and when looking at the Moon, wink at it in remembrance of Neil Armstrong  - first human to walk on the Moon

Sky Guy In The Atlantic

Friday, December 1, 2017

Voyager 1 Fires Thrusters After 37 Years!!

Hey Space Placers!

Read this incredible story about far flung Voyager 1 using its back up thruster 37 years AFTER they were last used. Boy, can NASA build 'em!

An artist concept depicting one of the twin Voyager spacecraft.
Voyager 1 Artistic Rendition
Sky Guy In The Atlantic Ocean