Category Archives: astronomy


Close-Up of the Lagoon Nebula, 16 August 2004, Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), Beautiful views of outer space available right on your desktop – Every day!

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) is a great site to enjoy a beautiful image of space or to delve deeper into the mysteries of that picture and the science that surrounds it. My friend Jeff (also a ryze member) has this marked as his ‘home page’ to catch the image on a daily basis. I tend to go and back-track through the images I missed since my last visit. However you decide to enjoy the site, APOD is a great way to really find out what’s out there. It will convince you that the universe is a bold and beautiful place. I featured this site first because I think you should see something beautiful to get you interested in any topic – to see the inspirational side before you get to the alley ways of the adventure awaiting off-world.

From APOD: “Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.”

SEPTEMBER, The Ninth Month

from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2003
“Mars rocks. Its historic superclose approach during the last days of August ensures a dazzling all-night dominance of the heavens throughout September. On the 1st, Mars shines at an amazing magnitude of -2.9, three times brighter than Jupiter and ten times brighter than anything in the midnight sky. But don’t blink: Earth speeds so quickly past Mars that the red planet dramatically loses half its light during September. Meanwhile, Jupiter emerges in the predawn east and conspicuously hovers above Mercury after the 21st: the two are strikingly joined by the Moon on the 24th. Fall begins with the autumnal equinox on the 23rd, at 3:47A.M.”

NOTE: Western Edition quoted, adjust times accordingly

Perseid Meteor Shower

This annual Perseid Meteor Shower is upon us and there are many links to information on how to view them and when and where to look.

Unfortunately, the best viewing and the peak of the meteor shower – August 12 – August 13 – is also during the full moon this year.

Many of these sites are new to me so leave a comment if you learn something interesting (or where to avoid!).

This site looks pretty basic, a nice place to start.

A nice looking British site.

Gary W. Kronk’s information (very detailed)

AUGUST, The Eighth Month

from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2003
“Venus and Jupiter closely, but invisibly, bunch behind the Sun as they meet on the 22nd, going in opposite directions. Venus transitions from a morning star to an evening star while Jupiter does the converse, a role reversal that will produce brilliance by year’s end. Other wimpy events include Neptune’s opposition on the 4th, the Perseid meteor shower’s washout by a full Moon on the 11th, and Uranus’s opposition on the 24th, when in dark skies it can be dimly glimpsed above Mars by the naked eye. However, kneel before the great Martian opposition on the 28th, when the red planet comes nearer and gets brighter than it has been in thousands of years!”

NOTE: Western Edition quoted, adjust times accordingly

The delta Aquarid meteor shower is underway

“METEOR WATCH: Sky watchers who have been going outside between midnight and dawn to see Mars have lately been seeing something else, too: shooting stars. Mars is in the constellation Aquarius, and so is the radiant of the delta Aquarid meteor shower, which peaks this year on July 28th and 29th. This is not a major shower. It produces just 10 to 20 meteors each hour. But if you stand outside for 10 minutes or so, you’re likely to spot two or three delta Aquarids–a lovely bonus for Mars watchers.”

See also: for a cool picture!

Another interesting site.

JULY, The Seventh Month

from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2003
“Earth’s Aphelion (farthest point from the Sun) arrives on the 3rd, with the Sun now at its dimmest of the year. In fact, everything but Mars seems to be reaching a choreographed nadir. Jupiter, near the crescent Moon on the 2nd, crosses into Leo and drops so low into evening twilight that its lovely conjunction with Mercury on the 25th will be a challenge to see. Saturn is lost in solar glare until the end of the month. Venus’s long performance as a morning star sputters to a close. But Mars makes up for it all: Near the Moon on the 17th and brighter than magnitude – 1.0, it rises by 11 P.M and overwhelms the dim stars of Aquarius, its home until December.”
NOTE: Western Edition quoted, adjust times accordingly

JUNE, The Sixth Month

from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2003
“Jupiter, near the crescent Moon on the 4th, gets lower in the west and is now visible only before midnight. The Moon is at perigee on the 12th. Mercury and Venus come strikingly close together on the 20th but are a difficult sight a few degrees above the eastern horizon in the predawn twilight. Saturn is totally gone, invisibly entering Gemini before passing behind the Sun on the 24th. The big story is Mars, now brilliant (and 500 times brighter than Uranus, which floats just above the red planet). Rising soon after midnight Mars is near the Moon on the 18th. Summer begins with the solsitce on the 21st at 12:10 in the afternoon.”
NOTE: Western Edition quoted, adjust times accordingly


“Along a narrow path (only 1 or 2 miles wide) stretching from Dallas through St. Louis to Chicago, sky watchers can see the International Space Station pass in front of the eclipsed moon tonight. Like the moon itself, the ISS will be inside Earth’s shadow, so it will be dark–a ghostly silhouette racing across the dimly-lit lunar terrain in less than a second. You have to be at the right place at the right time to see it. Thomas Fly has prepared maps and timetables for the central United States and other places where these transits may be visible.”