EYES TO THE SKY April 1 – 14, 2019

"Lightning Bugs" 2012 by Donald R. Pettit, NASA astronaut

“Lightning Bugs” 2012 by Donald R. Pettit, NASA astronaut The spectacular image, above, was produced by Donald R. Pettit, a NASA astronaut, from multiple photographs captured during Expedition XXXI of the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting 240 miles above Earth.”It is a star trail and Earth image showing massive thunderstorms. The white flashes are lightning […]

EYES TO THE SKY March 18 – 31, 2019

The seasons result from the Earth's rotational axis tilting 23.5 degrees out of perpendicular to the ecliptic - or Earth's orbital plane

The seasons result from the Earth’s rotational axis tilting 23.5 degrees out of perpendicular to the ecliptic – or Earth’s orbital plane Everyday movements of the planets, stars, moon and Sun, through day and night, are “aha” moments when we remark the changes of the positions of celestial bodies in the sky and in relation […]

Eyes to the Sky March 4 – 17, 2019

Arcturus and the Sun

At this moment every year, we meet to observe with delight the first signs of spring in the sky, before the earth thaws. The increasing light and heat of the Sun and the re-appearance of spring stars Regulus and Arcturus in the evening sky are heralds of flowering elm trees, blooming willows and alders, redwing blackbirds, and, […]

Eyes To The Sky February 18 – March 4, 2019


It was nearly 7 a.m. and 14 degrees under a pale blue sky dappled with speeding, silvery-outlined golden clouds just overhead. I was north of town, in the countryside, walking swiftly to an opening in the forest for a view to the southeast where planet Venus might still be visible. Once there, I scanned above […]

EYES TO THE SKY February 4 – 17, 2019

February 5, 2019, one-hour before sunrise.
Image: Judy Isacoff, Starry Night

Every day, a ball of fire crosses the sky.             This bizarre reality was so flabbergasting in ancient times that people could relate to it only with worship. The Aztecs and Egyptians were far from alone in regarding the Sun as a god. The Persians, Incas, and Tamils (of southern India) also elevated the Sun to […]

EYES TO THE SKY January 21 – February 3, 2019

January 31, southeast to south-southeast, one hour before sunrise.
Image by Judy Isacoff/Starry Night

All week, and into next, there is a dance taking place on the celestial dome; the glittering partners move close to each other, change their positions, flirt with a crescent moon, and part. Tomorrow is the culmination of this winter’s unfolding relationship between brilliant planet Venus and radiant Jupiter: they arrive at conjunction – closest […]

EYES TO THE SKY January 7 – 20, 2019

Astrophotographer James Jordan captured this view of the Super Blue Blood Moon at totality from Oakland, California.

 “When you think about it, there aren’t many celestial objects that change color…. But now, on January 20, the Moon will have real color, deep color.” Bob Berman, Astronomer* The year begins with celestial dynamics that excite our appetite for beauty and spark our capacity for wonder. The most dramatic event is a total eclipse […]

EYES TO THE SKY December 24, 2018 – January 6, 2019


The dark of night extends into morning most noticeably from today through mid-January: in our neighborhood, the Sun rises around 7:20am. It is the ideal time to observe planet Venus, the Morning Star, shining brightly high in the southeast as late as 7am. During the whole period of this post, civil twilight begins just half […]

EYES TO THE SKY December 10 – 23, 2018

The delightful meteor shower image, "The November Meteors" by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot, would have been inspired by the annual Leonid meteor shower.

This week, December’s Geminid shower is predicted to peak Thursday the 13th after 10pm into Friday the 14th before dawn, with 2am as optimum observing. For details about the Geminids, click here. To view the original Trouvelot lithograph in the exhibition, “Extreme Nature!”, at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, click here. Sunset, December […]