Saturday, July 20, 2024


 Hey, Fellow LUNATICS! (In the Astronomical Sense Of Course)

 This beautiful GIF of the Moon covering 10 days was taken by my friend Scott Kardel using a Unistellar Odyssey Pro Telescope

Credit:  Scott Kardel - Used With Permission

Today, July 20th, is International Moon Day.

Read my article to learn about this special day and of course, the Moon!

Be sure to wink at the Moon and remember Neil.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, July 18, 2024


 Hey, Space Placers!


Images taken with Unistellar Telescopes

Have you wanted to get a closer view of the Moon, planets and the amazing variety of celestial objects in our Milky Way Galaxy and beyond? Got a desire to get pictures of what you would see? Think you can't do so because you don't have the equipment and necessary knowledge? 

The pictures above were taken by me using a  Unistellar  Smart Telescope - a telescope that WiFi links up to your smartphone and/or tablet to be controlled using the associated app and store your telescope's images. Oh, and it only takes about 5 minutes from set up to first image and even less time for take down. Contrast that to the minimum one hour for both with my traditional telescope. 

Welcome to the New Age Of Smart Telescope Amateur Astronomy. 

When I was completing my second Springer Astronomy book, "Astrophotography Is Easy: Basics for Beginners" (see the active link above my Blog's date) in 2020, "Smart Telescopes" were just getting their start. I took the plunge with Unistellar and my top of the line 10-inch telescope and associated astrophotography equipment now lie dormant in pretty much permanent storage. 

Using my Unistellar telescopes I see and image more, including very challenging objects I have NEVER imaged before, from the convenience of my car, couch or observing chair.

Full attribution required: I am a Unistellar Ambassador which is not compensated monetarily or considered to be an employee of the company.

I have owned and use multiple Unistellar telescopes - eVscope, eVscope 2, Odyssey Pro - and keep abreast of other companies' products.  I have been involved in the beta testing of their telescopes and the application that runs them. I have participated in their ground breaking Citizen Science program and intend to do more observations. 

I encourage you to read Bob King's excellent article on this New Age vs the ways things used to be done and consider how you want to make the plunge  . If you already have a telescope, adding a Smart Telescope is still a good idea as Bob points out as they add great utility.

One last point. 

Right now Unistellar has a social media connected worldwide community of over 20,000 and growing as it used to be 10,000! THAT is simply amazing and a powerful resource for Citizen Science that is affiliated with NASA and SETI, and amateur astronomy in general.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, July 16, 2024


 Hey Space Placer Movie Lovers!

My bride and I saw "FLY ME TO THE MOON" today and I have to say, it was a FUN movie that at spots gave me goose bumps. 

The movie revolves around the work up to the Apollo 11 mission and starts with the tragic Apollo 1 fire which carries through the entire movie due to Tatum Channing's role as Launch Director for both missions. 

Woody Harrelson is his as usual excellent character and Scarlett Johansson steals the show with her portrayal.

The movie is a time warp back to the '60's with JFK's "We Choose to go the Moon" speech, Vietnam, Nixon, fast muscle cars and great music hits. If you grew up in that era like we did, you will love seeing the movie.

A neat part of the movie involves the ads of the day that were "space based" - you'll see some real ones and some not for real ones.

The real scenes of Apollo 11 lifting off and Walter Cronkite's coverage were goose bump moments for me.

Space geeks will enjoy the various NASA scenes and some of them I have actually visited, so memory lane there for me.

The movie is at its core an enjoyable Romance-Comedy taking place within the start of the Space Age and 60's.

I think Channing Tatum's role is very loosely based on real life Mercury Astronaut Deke Slayton for reasons you will recognize if you are a well informed student of NASA.

I won't give anything away, BUT be sure to catch the name of the program used for a Top Secret project.

You ought to see the movie on July 20th, International Moon Day, to celebrate Apollo 11.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, July 15, 2024


 Hey, Space Placers!

Red, blue, and white specks of various sizes on a black background. In a black sqaure one of these dots is magnified to a red and blue line

The galaxy JADES-GS-z14-0 which exists 33.8 billion light-years from Earth. 
(Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Brant Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), Ben Johnson (CfA), Sandro Tacchella (Cambridge), Phill Cargile (CfA))

Here is an EXCELLENT article that explains clearly how our Universe works - as related by our current best theories of the Big Bang and Dark Energy. These theories are backed up by strong observational evidence and do a splendid job in predicting the behavior of our Universe. 

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is probing the earliest galaxies and stars to form after our Universe began 13.8 billion years ago. 

We do not have all of the answers but humanity is working hard to get answers.

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, July 14, 2024


 Hey Space Placers & PLUTO LOVERS!

Watch the above video to get the "Pluto Is A Planet" perspective from Alan Stern, the planetary astronomer who knows more about Pluto than anyone else, oh, and A LOT about planets.

I agree with Dr. Stern's position that the current planet definition is flawed and needs to be changed, which would make Pluto and thousands of other bodies around stars (exoplanets) planets. This has been my stated position since the 2006 IAU debacle. I have had the benefit of meeting and interviewing Dr. Stern as you can see in this photo. We are displaying the "Pluto IS the 9th Planet" protest sign.

                                                                        Dr. Stern and I

My New Horizons Mission Photo Autographed by Dr. Stern

There is a move to redefine "planet" at the August 2024 International Astronomical Union (IAU). My alma mater UCLA just released a statement about a proposed new planet definition .

You can get more info here including the streaming of an update about the ongoing search for "Planet Nine" starring the astronomer who boasts about his getting Pluto demoted as a planet.

I'll have more on this story as it unfolds.

Sky Guy In VA Votes for PLUTO AS A PLANET

Saturday, July 13, 2024

FAA grounds Falcon 9 after engine explodes mid-flight


A rusty orange rocket body in space, with the curved of Earth visible.

A screenshot from the July 11, 2024, livestream of a Falcon 9 launch shows the rockeet that failed and resulted in falling Starlink satellites. The flight marked the first mission failure for a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 7 years. 

Image via SpaceX livestream.

Now people will realize that you need multiple ways to get to space!

With Falcon 9 grounded there is no US access for NASA International Space Station (ISS) crews to get to space and back except for Russia's (YES, THAT RUSSIA THAT INVADED UKRAINE) Soyuz at a possible (my estimate) cost per seat of $100 million????? And that's IF Putin allows it.

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft is essentially grounded at ISS with 2 astronauts in limbo - but working and helping out on ISS -while NASA and Boeing work through the thruster issue. It is highly probable that Boeing will have more work to do to get Starliner certified for human flight.

And now the uber reliable Falcon 9 that was due to launch NASA's next crew to the ISS next month is grounded until further notice. It will take months -at a minimum - to determine why the 2nd stage blew up in space and then get it re-certified to fly cargo and humans once again.

Quite the predicament for NASA human spaceflight......

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, July 12, 2024


 Hey, Space Placers!

This image of interacting galaxies Arp 142 was captured by the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument).

Credit: NASA

TWO YEARS of JWST ground breaking discoveries!

Read all about it here!

Sky Guy in VA