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Night Vision: Observing the Sky as an Astronomer

February 3rd, 2016

NightVision_220x214Many people may have a mistaken assumption that they need to own a telescope to get started in astronomy. In reality, there are many astronomical phenomena that are observable with just the eyes. These include; stars and constellations and how their appearance changes over one night and from one season to the next, the repeating pattern of the moon’s phases, the yearly change in the height and rise and set points of the Sun, and the motion of planets against the background stars. All of these astronomical phenomena can be easily experienced by making regular observations of the sky over time.

If you are interested in observing the sky and would like an introduction to this subject, join us for Night Vision on February 4 or February 13 at 6:45 p.m. During the show we will experience examples of what can be observed and also learn basic sky terminology.

Gateway to the Stars February 2016

February 1st, 2016

One of the central purposes of Gateway to the Stars is to dispense practical advice for those interested in using telescopes and/or binoculars to study the night sky (and sometimes the daytime sky, too). That’s especially important this month because we’ll be showcasing many different celestial targets that are not only beautiful to look at, but also astronomically important, and easily viewed through the kinds of telescopes a normal hobbyist, or even a student, might have.

Oftentimes, the easiest targets for amateur astronomers are the Moon and the planets, because they’re so bright and easy to find. And as luck would have it, all five of the visible planets are putting on a spectacular display in the pre-dawn hours right now. Mercury, Venus, and Saturn will be hugging the ground just before sunrise, and stretching above them are Mars, Jupiter, and the Moon, forming a long, straight convoy that arches up overhead, hopefully catching your eye, your interest, and your imagination.

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Remembering Challenger 30 Years Later

January 27th, 2016

“Seared into our memory.” There are images of tragedy we experience that are so emotionally devastating our memory of them does not fade with the passage of time. January 28, 1986. Thirty years ago. I was in a coffee shop near Hansen Planetarium, grabbing a quick cup-to-go with a coworker.

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