December 2021 Stargazing – Meteor Showers, Planet Alignments, And A New Comet

If you can stand the cold, December could be the best month of the year for stargazing. We better start with the planet Venus, because it won’t be back in the evening sky until December 2022. Get out of bed early (3:30am – 5:30am) on the mornings around Thursday, December 9 to see Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard), a new comet discovered in January of this year. It is located one-third of the way up the eastern sky, near the circle of stars that form the head of Serpens Caput (the Snake’s Head). You may need binoculars for a good view. […]

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2021 Sky-Watchers Gift Giving Guide

Looking for a unique 2021 Holiday gift for someone special? Check out the ideas below for the stargazer  from beginner to advanced and young to old. Dreaming of becoming an astronaut, but currently a couch potato?  You could start that special person with a good pair of binoculars. If they are ready for a telescope, don’t waste your money on one that is difficult to assemble or too complicated. Here is a list of quality telescopes ranging from $100 to $2,000. Don’t be confused by terms like focal length, aperture, reflector, and refractor. A reflector telescope uses mirrors and a […]

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Why is naming a star with Name a Star a unique gift idea?

Why is naming a star with Name a Star a unique gift idea? Name a star provides the opportunity to name a real star in the sky that currently only has a catalog number. You then customize the gift to honor the recipient on the special occasion. The most popular customization is for you to create a short tribute or message that is printed on the Certificate of Registration. These can be funny, serious, or sad depending on the situation. You can use one of the sample tributes or create your own unique tribute. Let’s look at some of the […]

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Learn How Different Cultures Have Contributed To Naming The Stars In The Sky

The names of stars come from many sources that vary in different regions of the world. Many cultures have rich histories of naming stars for mythology, agriculture, timekeeping, and navigation. Some of the most notable ancient cultures to catalog star names are Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, Polynesian, Persian, Indian, Babylonian, and Native American. The Chinese inscribed star names on tortoise shells and were the first to record a super nova. Early Polynesians were highly skilled wayfinders who sailed thousands of miles over open ocean navigating by the stars. Egyptians created the modern calendar to predict the annual flooding of the Nile […]

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Father’s Day Stargazing Gift Guide 2022

Looking for a unique Father’s Day gift that gets Dad outside? Check out the ideas below for the stargazing dad from beginner to advanced. Would dad like to get a closer look at the stars without becoming an astronaut? You could start him out with a good pair of binoculars. If dad is ready for a telescope, don’t waste your money on one that is difficult to assemble or too complicated. Here is a list of quality telescopes ranging from $100 to $2,000. Don’t be confused by terms like focal length, aperture, reflector, and refractor. A reflector telescope uses mirrors […]

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Spring Adventures In Night Sky Viewing

Lions, meteors, and space dust in the sky. Oh my! Spring is a great time for stargazing. Temperatures have gotten a bit warmer and the nights are still long. In 2021, the spring equinox is officially March 20th. A very bright Venus is still visible on the western horizon just after dark. To the south, Orion’s belt with the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, will disappear below the horizon in a few weeks, so get your last look until next fall. In the east, the stars of spring are rising: Regulus in Leo, ruby red supergiant Arcturus in Boötes, […]

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How Stars Are Born And Die

The interstellar space between stars is not empty. It contains large amounts of gas and dust particles. These particles swirl around in space, and just like the dust in your house, they are not evenly distributed. We have all found dust bunnies under the furniture in the corners. The same thing happens in space as these particles accumulate into molecular clouds. Molecular clouds are mix of atoms, molecules, and dust. Atoms are the small building blocks of all the stuff around us. Molecules consist of two or more atoms joined together. The molecules present in molecular clouds are typically molecular […]

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How To Name A Star

The brightest stars which are easily visible by the naked eye were named by many ancient cultures including Greek, Latin, Arabic, Australian Aboriginal, Chinese, Coptic, Hindu, Mayan, Polynesian and South African. As a result many stars have multiple names. Technically, anyone is free to give any name to any star, but if a name for an individual star is going to be used consistently by professional astronomers, it has to be approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The IAU is the only internationally recognized authority for assigning names to celestial objects and surface features on them. So far the IAU has only approved […]

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Romancing The Stars

The night sky has inspired romance, wonder, and art for thousands of years. Check out the story of Cepheus and Cassiopeia. He was the easy going king of Ethiopia and she was the vain queen, a “mirror, mirror on the wall” type. Poseidon sent a sea monster after Cassiopeia for insulting his wife. She survived that ordeal, only to then insult Hera, queen of the Greek gods. Hera dispatched Cassiopeia to the sky.  A heart broken Cepheus begged his buddy Zeus to send him to be with his beloved Cassiopeia. Now Cephus and Cassiopea permanently embrace in the heavens. How […]

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Learn What Science Has To Say About The Star Of Bethlehem

Bright stars top Christmas trees in homes around much of the world. The Star of Bethlehem or Christmas Star has appeared in art, literature, and science for over 2,000 years, but where is it and how can you see it? The Star of Bethlehem is part of the nativity story in the Gospel of Matthew. Three “wise men from the East” (Magi) are inspired to follow the star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. The star moved across the sky, then stopped over a manger marking the location for the birth of Jesus. This is the only mention […]

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