Astronomy

The night sky is truly out-of-this-world and I find myself grappling to comprehend the distances to stars and even the moon. I often find myself pondering huge questions when looking at the night sky and then heading inside feeling very insignificant in this universe.


Supermoon lunar eclipse ends lunar tetrad

As the full moon rose after sunset on Sunday, Sept. 27, observers were treated to a partial lunar eclipse. As the moon climbed higher in the sky, the bright crescent became smaller and the rest of the moon became redder as it progressed to a total lunar eclipse. Lunar eclipses…

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Tracking the year with full moons

A full moon rising over the eastern horizon is a magnificent sight especially on a clear winter night. For millennia, humans have watched the full moon rise and have used it as a way to track time and plan harvests, hunting and planting. Every 29.5 days, the moon returns to…

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First day of summer longest but not hottest

The warm, sunny days in early June made the last part of spring feel like summer. Summer technically doesn’t begin until the summer solstice on June 21 but we’ve enjoyed summer-like weather for a few weeks. The summer solstice marks the day when the sun is at its farthest north…

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Why is the sky blue?

When a child colors a picture of the sky, the sky is blue and the sun is yellow. Why isn’t the sky green and the sun purple? The color of the sky is determined by what is in the atmosphere. Without an atmosphere the sky would be black, like what…

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Comets offer a glimpse of deep space

One doesn’t forget seeing a comet trail across the night sky for weeks. Many may remember Hale-Bopp visible in 1997 or Halley’s comet in 1986. Typically, comets visible to the naked eye are seen once every five to ten years. But this year we have two chances. If clouds block…

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Leonid meteor shower peaks this weekend

Shooting stars are always exciting to see. Sometimes I only see them out of the corner of my eye, other times I’m lucky enough to be looking at the right part of the sky at the right time. Despite resemblance in brightness and size, shooting stars are not stars streaking…

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Transit of Venus

Today I witnessed an incredible event that will not occur again in my lifetime–the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. The next time this rare astronomical event will occur is 2117. Venus was a small dot barely visible to the naked eye (through a welder’s helmet) as…

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Twilight encroaching on northern lights

The northern lights danced across the star-studded sky last week but this time twilight was encroaching–even at 2 a.m. Outlines of trees on the northern horizon were visible against the midnight-blue sky that only permitted the brightest stars to shine. Northern Lights with glow of twilight on northern horizon Pure darkness will not…

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The science behind the northern lights

A faint glow illuminated the northern sky as we packed the truck in the dark to get an early start out of Haines Junction, Yukon. At first I thought it was the glow from street lamps or maybe the start of morning twilight but then a shaft a light reached…

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